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UK Grants Crime Agency and Police Powers to Seize and Freeze Crypto  

The fight against crypto use by illicit actors is taking center stage in policies drafted worldwide. The UK is beyond the prolonged debate by granting seizure powers to law enforcement units, allowing them to freeze and destroy such crypto assets. 

 The UK government, via Friday, April 26, press release, granted seizure powers to the National Crime Agency (NCA) alongside police. The powers extend to freezing and destroying crypto linked to criminals. 

UK Empowers Police in Fight Against Crypto Usage in Illicit Finance

The Friday’s release labels privacy coins as eroding the public good and serving to mask criminality. The UK Home Secretary James Cleverly indicated that the government resolved never to ease criminals’ capability to draw benefits by violating the law. 

Friday’s press release affirmed that the new seizure powers are in force, implying that police can seize crypto from the suspect. It revises the existing procedure where the police could only arrest the suspect and then seize crypto.

The powers granted the police the capability to seize items, including memory sticks and written passwords; they could offer information and help with the investigation. 

The new directive allows police officers the capability to execute transfers of illicit crypto into the wallets that law enforcement controls. The police officers have the power to destroy cryptocurrencies if required. 

The UK government offers relief for crime victims who can apply for restitution from the crypto account of illicit actors.  

Cleverly indicated that the UK government is devoted to incapacitating criminals’ capability to benefit from violating laws. This awareness is behind the changes that enable law enforcement to stay on top of the developing threat. 

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It is clearly illustrated that UK government agencies are better placed to deal with threats such as crypto fundraising by illicit actors. Granting the new powers to the police officers is justified by terrorist entities’ preference for crypto fundraising, such as one orchestrated by Daesh.  

Cleverly illustrated that drug dealers and fraudsters were leveraging cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) executive Adrian Searle decried that crypto assets are a haven for criminals seeking to conceal and move proceeds. The crypto assets offer the scale, pace, and anonymity that criminals desire to defraud victims. 

Director Searle welcomes the new powers for their potential to enhance law enforcement’s capability to restrain crypto usage. The powers allow the enforcement officers involved to recover and destroy such crypto when required. 

Privacy Coins Erode Public Good

The UK picked out privacy coins as an adversary to the public good. The majority of crypto, including Ethereum and Bitcoin, leverage public ledgers and only offer pseudo-anonymity to users. While wallet addresses remain anonymous, one can track the individual’s identity using the know-your-customer procedures. As such, every transaction executed by that wallet is identifiable and traceable. 

The criticism of privacy coins, including Zcash and Monero, is that they leverage technologies that shield the identifiers about the transactions. 

Bitcoin Mixer Founders Charged

Governments around the world have, in recent days, cracked down on crypto privacy. Earlier in the week, the UK authorities charged individuals behind the Samourai wallet. The founders of the Bitcoin mixer are battling charges alleging conspiracy to money laundering. 

The US authorities announced on Wednesday, April 24, the arrest and charging of Samourai Wallet co-founders. The New York Southern District attorney hailed the charges against William Hill and Keonne Rodriguez, alleging they facilitated a money laundering scheme. 

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The duo operated the crypto mixer that facilitated the execution of $2 billion in illicit transactions and over $100M in money laundering transactions linked to players within the illegal dark web markets.  

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) advised against the unregistered crypto money transmitting services. The FBI urged Americans to transact with parties holding Money Services Businesses (MSB) licenses. 

The FBI directed that crypto service providers with MSB licenses should ensure compliance with the anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer laws. Michael Balcina, who serves as a crypto partner at Piper Adelman, indicated that the FBI’s warning constitutes an attempt for consumers to avoid the smart-contract-based privacy tools. 

Bankless co-founder Ryan Adams reflected on the FBI warning that appears to target privacy projects, including Samourai Wallet and Tornado Cash. The crypto executive decried that regulators arrest privacy developers and label them MSBs. 

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Stephen Causby

Stephen Causby is an experienced crypto journalist who writes for Tokenhell. He is passionate for coverage in crypto news, blockchain, DeFi, and NFT.

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