UK government introduces bill to allow authorities to ‘seize, freeze and recover crypto’

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The United Kingdom government has introduced a bill to tackle money laundering and fraud, notably by expanding the authorities’ ability to target cryptocurrencies used for illegal purposes.

In an announcement Thursday, the British government said lawmakers had introduced the Economic Crime and Business Transparency Act into parliament as part of efforts to drive “dirty money” out of the country. The bill included provisions to reduce the “administrative burden surrounding confidentiality liability” and grant law enforcement the power “to compel companies to hand over information that may be related to money laundering or terrorist financing,” including crypto.

“The new law will make it easier and faster for law enforcement agencies like the National Crime Agency to seize, freeze and recover crypto assets – the digital currency increasingly used by organized criminals to collect profits from fraud, drugs and cybercrime. laundering,” the government said. . “Strengthening the powers in the proceeds of crime law will modernize legislation to ensure agencies can keep up with rapid technological change and prevent assets from financing further crime.”

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Graeme Biggar, Director General of the UK’s National Crime Agency, said:

“Domestic and international criminals have spent years laundering the proceeds of their crime and corruption by abusing UK corporate structures and increasingly using cryptocurrencies. These reforms – long-awaited and very welcome – will help us fight both.”

The bill, first announced by King Charles – then Prince – in May during the Queen’s Speech to both houses of the British Parliament, would “address illicit financing, reduce economic crime and help businesses grow.” The country’s Ministry of Economy and Finance has also been working on including stablecoins as a means of payment in the regulatory framework.

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According to the British government, increasing the authorities’ ability to seize, freeze and recover crypto is based on legislation that will make it “faster to impose harsh sanctions” on individuals associated with the Russian president Vladimir Putin after the invasion of Ukraine. The bill came after a major shock in the UK with the deaths of Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Liz Truss replacing Boris Johnson.

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According to the government, the Metropolitan Police claimed there had been “a major increase in cryptocurrency attacks” in 2021 as the space and number of users grew. The TAUT reported in July 2021 that police had separately seized £114 million and £180 million – about $331 million combined at the time of publication – worth of crypto linked to international money laundering.