London’s Metropolitan Police have set a new UK record after seizing cryptocurrency worth almost GBP180mln as part of an ongoing investigation into international money laundering.
On Tuesday morning, the Met said the digital currency haul is estimated to be one of the largest seizures globally and breaks the force’s own record of GBP114mln set by detectives on June 24.
The force said the seizures were made by its Economic Crime Command on the back of intelligence received about the transfer of criminal assets, adding that a woman previously arrested on June 24 was interviewed under caution in relation to the discovery before being bailed until late July.
“Proceeds of crime are laundered in many different ways. While cash still remains king in the criminal world, as digital platforms develop we’re increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money,” the Met’s deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty said in a statement.
“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,” McNulty added.
Due to its largely anonymous nature and the ability to make transfers across borders, cryptocurrency is being increasingly used by criminals to launder money without being tracked by the authorities, while hackers are also using crypto as a payment method for ransoms from cyberattacks.
Earlier this month, Russian-speaking hackers conducted a mass ransomware attack against over 200 companies worldwide and demanded that the US$70mln ransom be paid in Bitcoin.
In mid-morning trading in London on Tuesday, Bitcoin was down 3% in the last 24 hours at US$33,212, giving it a market cap of US$622bn.