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UK Introduces Law to Seize, Freeze and Recover Crypto

Updated: Apr 5

Sculpture wearing Bitcoin glasses

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act is intended to expand on a previous law that assisted regulators in imposing sanctions on Russia.

The government announced that the U.K. has tabled a bill to make it simpler for law enforcement authorities to confiscate, freeze, and recover cryptocurrency assets when they are used for illegal activities including money laundering, drug trafficking, and cybercrime.

The Home Office, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Serious Fraud Office, and Treasury introduced the 250-page Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency bill, which extends beyond cryptocurrency and was initially promised in May. The House of Commons held its first reading on Thursday, and the second reading is slated on October 13.

"For years, domestic and international criminals have laundered the proceeds of their crime and corruption by abusing UK company structures, and are increasingly employing cryptocurrencies," said Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Crime Agency. "These long-awaited and much-welcomed measures will assist us in cracking down on both."

Even in the absence of the bill, the authorities have not been rendered impotent. According to the BBC, London's Metropolitan Police seized a record 180 million British pounds (US$200 million) in cryptocurrency-related to international money laundering in July of last year, following a 114 million-pound haul in June.

The bill is intended to build on the previous Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act, which assisted authorities in imposing sanctions on Russia and freezing related assets in the country. Regulators are concerned that some Russians are using cryptocurrency to circumvent sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine.

Following the lead of other countries, the Treasury modified instructions earlier this month to require crypto exchanges and wallet providers to notify suspected sanction violations. The United States and the European Union also underlined that their penalty provisions apply to cryptocurrency.



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