The UK police have made one of the world’s largest seizures of cryptocurrency as part of an investigation into money laundering.
The Metropolitan Police confirmed today that the seizure of ¬£114 million in cryptocurrency is the largest ever of its kind in the UK, as well as one of the largest ever worldwide.
Last year, a vast amount of Bitcoin – around $1 billion (¬£714 million) to be precise – was seized by the authorities over in the United States in connection with dark web marketplace The Silk Road, which was closed down for good in 2013.
The Met have not yet released the type of cryptocurrency they have seized, but they did confirm that the whole operation was carried out by their Economic Crime Command team and that the seizure was related to money laundering crime.
Graham McNulty, the Deputy Assistant Crime Commissioner, said: “Every single part of the Met is working to reduce violence on the streets of London as an absolute priority, this includes our financial investigators.
“There is an inherent link between money and violence. Violence is used to extort, blackmail, burgle, control and exploit. It’s used to protect criminal profits and maintain control of territories.
“Cash remains king, but as technology and online platforms develop, some are moving to more sophisticated methods of laundering their profits.”
He continued: “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.
“In the financial year 2020/21, we have seized more than ¬£47m from the hands of criminals. This cash can no longer be reinvested in crime, it cannot be used to buy and peddle drugs and weapons, and cannot be used to entice and exploit young and vulnerable people into criminality.”
Detective Constable Joe Ryan added: “Criminals need to legitimise their money otherwise it risks being seized by law enforcement.
“The proceeds of crime are almost always laundered to hide the origin, but by disrupting the flow of funds before they are reinvested, we can make London an incredibly difficult place for criminals to operate.”
After a roller coaster week that saw prices of Bitcoin crash to their lowest in 2021 so far, the cryptocurrency rallied back and now stands at just underneath ¬£25,000.
That’s still a long way beneath where it has been so far this year, but it represents a significant recovery.
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