In the span of a few weeks, the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police (MET) have confiscated roughly $410M USD (£295M) worth of cryptocurrency.
Metropolitan Police – Economic Crime Command
The MET is comprised of various divisions, each specializing in different fields. The group within the MET responsible for these seizures is known as the ‘Economic Crime Command (ECC)’.
The roughly $410M USD is the result of two separate cryptocurrency seizures – each record setting at the time of their announcement.
The seizures took place on suspicions of international money laundering linked to further criminal activity.
In each of these instances, the MET has indicated that a single 39yr female was brought in for questioning who is now on bail.
Considering the scope of these seizures, it would stand to reason that the investigation being performed by the ECC will eventually lead to more than a single arrest.
Deputy Constable Joe Ryan states,
“Less than a month ago we successfully seized £114million in cryptocurrency. Our investigation since then has been complex and wide-ranging. We have worked hard to trace this money and identify the criminality it may be linked to. Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the centre of this suspected money laundering operation.”
Cash is King
Despite the size of the aforementioned seizures, representatives of the MET indicate that while usage is growing, cryptocurrencies are not the primary means through which criminals launder money.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty states,
“Cash remains king, but as technology and online platforms develop, some are moving to more sophisticated methods of laundering their profits. But, we have highly trained officers and specialist units working day and night to remain one step ahead…These officers not only work to disrupt and seize funds being transferred digitally, they continue to deprive criminals of hard cash.”
While the two recent seizures made by the MET’s ECC are sizable, they still pale in comparison to one recently made by the United States Department of Justice (USDOJ).
On Nov. 5, 2020, the USDOJ announced its own record-breaking seizure of roughly $1 billion in cryptocurrency. These recovered funds were believed to be the proceeds of the infamous ‘Silk Road’ – a marketplace found on the dark-web.
KYC / AML
These events are the reason that service providers dealing with digital assets are required to remain compliant with both KYC and AML regulations. In doing so, nefarious activity is more easily identifiable, allowing for regulators and law enforcement to hold any bad actors accountable.
While some feel as though KYC/AML measures can be an invasion of privacy, they are an unfortunate necessity in a world rife with thieves.