As the old saying goes, “If you’re not the first, you’re the second”. In this case, if you aren’t the first to get something, you’ll be sure to be second. And if you are the first, you’ll be sure to be second again. And so on…
The Metropolitan Police Service of the United Kingdom seized around $410 million in cryptocurrency in a span of weeks this past fall. What seems to be the catalyst behind this was the blocking of over 12,000 accounts of crypto users in Great Britain.
The UK’s Metropolitan Police (MET) has seized around $410 million (£295 million) worth of cryptocurrencies in a matter of weeks.
Metropolitan Police – Economic Crime Command
The MET is composed of several departments, each specializing in different areas. The MET group responsible for these seizures is known as the Economic Crimes Command (ECC).
The roughly $410 million is the result of two separate seizures of cryptocurrencies, each a record at the time of the announcement.
The seizures were made on suspicion of laundering international money in connection with other criminal activities.
In each of these cases, a 39-year-old woman was summoned for questioning and has since been released on bail, the MET said.
Given the scale of these seizures, it is reasonable to expect that the CTA’s investigation will ultimately lead to more than one arrest.
Deputy Constable Joe Ryan states
Less than a month ago, we withdrew 114 million pounds of crypto currency. Since then, our investigation has been complex and thorough. We are working hard to find this money and discover what crimes it may be linked to. Today’s seizure is another important step in this investigation, which will take months to find the masterminds of this alleged money laundering operation.
Cash – King
Despite the size of the above recoveries, MET noted that while the use of cryptocurrencies is increasing, they are not the primary means by which criminals launder money.
Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty said,
Cash is still king, but with the evolution of technology and online platforms, some are turning to more sophisticated methods to launder their proceeds. But we have well-trained staff and specialized units working day and night to stay ahead of the game. These officials are not only blocking and confiscating digitally converted money, but they continue to deprive criminals of money.
While the two recent seizures by the CEC are significant as a market-oriented business, they pale in comparison to the recent seizure by the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ).
The 5th. In November 2020, the US Department of Justice announced its own record seizure of cryptocurrencies, totaling nearly $1 billion. It is assumed that these bases originate from the infamous Silk Road, a marketplace on the Dark Web.
KYC / AML
These developments are the reason why providers of digital assets have to comply with KYC and AML regulations. This makes it easier to detect harmful activity, allowing regulators and law enforcement to prosecute unscrupulous participants.
While some may find KYC/AML measures an invasion of privacy, they are unfortunately necessary in a world where thieves abound.
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