The UK government has introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on money laundering and fraud, specifically expanding authorities’ ability to target cryptocurrencies for illicit purposes.
In an announcement on Thursday, British government lawmakers introduced the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act in Parliament as part of an effort to drive “dirty money” out of the country. The bill contains provisions to limit “red tape around confidentiality liability” and to give law enforcement the power to “compel businesses to hand over information related to money laundering or terrorist financing.”
“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 used by organized criminals to launder profits from fraud, drugs and cybercrime” . “Strengthening powers in criminal proceedings will modernize the law to help agencies keep pace with rapid technological change and prevent assets from funding more crimes.”
Graeme Biggar, Director General of England’s National Crime Agency, said:
“Domestic and international criminals have for years hidden the proceeds of crime and corruption by mishandling UK company structures and using cryptocurrencies. These reforms – long overdue and much welcomed – will help us tackle both.”
The bill, which was first announced by King Charles during the Queen’s address to both houses of the UK Parliament in May, is said to “tackle illicit finance, reduce economic crime and help businesses grow”. The country’s Ministry of Economy and Finance is also working to include stablecoins as a means of payment in its regulatory framework.
Following the invasion of Ukraine, it is based on a law that expands authorities’ powers to arrest, detain and extradite individuals linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, making it “quick to impose strong sanctions.” The legislation comes after a major shake-up in the UK, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Liz Truss replacing Boris Johnson.
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According to the government, the Metropolitan Police said there was a “significant increase in cryptocurrency seizures” in 2021 as the location and number of users increased. The BBC reported in July 2021 that police had separately seized £114 million and £180 million – approximately $331 million at the time of publication – related to international money laundering.