Earlier this month, the Met’s economic crime command seized a record-breaking £180 million in crypto assets. This is just a part of a broader investigation into international money laundering schemes involving cryptocurrencies.
The Met confirmed this was the largest amount of cryptocurrency ever seized in the UK, and likely one of the largest ever crypto seizures globally. Prior to this, the Met confiscated £114 million worth of cryptocurrency in late June.
The Met’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty issued a press release saying, “While cash still remains king in the criminal world, as digital platforms develop we’re increasingly seeing organized criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money. […] Whilst some years ago this was fairly uncharted territory, we now have highly trained officers and specialist units working hard in this space to remain one step ahead of those using it for illicit gain.”
Back on June 24, when the first batch of cryptocurrency was seized, a 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering offences. She was also interviewed regarding the latest seizure, however, she was bailed in late July. Officials have announced that the investigation will continue as they search for people who run the whole operation.
Although cryptocurrencies can be legally used, for example, for gambling at licensed UK online casinos, they are also being increasingly used to finance illegal activities. On the other side of the Atlantic, in November 2020, the US Justice Department came into possession of nearly 70,000 bitcoins, whose value was estimated at the time to be about $1 billion. According to the Justice Department, the digital wallet in which the bitcoins were kept was the property of the hacker who stole them from the operator of Silk Road, a black-market website used by criminals for selling drugs. Besides BTC, the Justice Department also seized a certain amount of Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Bitcoin SV, worth in total about $30 million.