The British police confiscated £180 million or about $250 million worth of digital assets as part of a thorough investigation for money laundering. The operation was marked as the largest seizure ever executed in the United Kingdom.
Breaking The Record
According to a recent Reuters report, the Met’s Economic Crime Command made one of the largest global crypto seizures – nearly $250 million worth of various digital assets. The operation, which was part of an ongoing investigation for international money laundering, was led by Detective Constable Joe Ryan:
“Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the center of this suspected money laundering operation.”
It is worth noting that this move broke the previous record when the British police seized about $160 million worth of virtual assets at the end of June. Back then, a 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering offenses and later released on bail. Somewhat surprisingly, the UK authorities interviewed under caution the same woman regarding the latest record seizure.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty noted that more and more criminals nowadays employ cryptocurrencies in their illegal endeavors. However, he outlined that the British officials are prepared to cope with those bad actors:
“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 unchartered 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.”
UK’s Previous Seizures
As the authorities asserted, the aforementioned seizures might be the largest in the UK, but there have been others in the past. CryptoPotato reported another one that transpired at the beginning of the year.
Back in January, the UK Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) arrested a 35-year-old woman and seized over $150,000 worth of Bitcoin as part of an investigation into fraudulent applications for government-backed loans for businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the statement, the woman had established multiple mule bank accounts to receive the proceeds of “Bounce Back Loans.” Those loans are a part of a program launched by the UK government to assist small businesses suffering from the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.
The investigation revealed that after receiving the funds in the mule bank accounts, the woman used them to purchase bitcoin. Detective Sergeant Ian Barrett, who was in charge of the operation, asserted:
“For people to take advantage of government support available to those who really need it in these unprecedented times is appalling.”