UK Authorities Gain Enhanced Powers to Deal with Crypto-Related Crimes

UK Authorities Gain Enhanced Powers to Deal with Crypto-Related Crimes

By: Eliza Bennet

In an attempt to tackle the growing issue of crypto-related crimes, the UK government has introduced new laws awarding enhanced powers to the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the police. These authorities can now seize, freeze, and even destroy digital assets linked to illicit activities. The laws came into effect on April 26, providing law enforcement with more mechanisms to disrupt the financial networks of organized crime groups that use cryptocurrencies for money laundering.

The changes in legislation are part of a broader strategy by the UK to confront cybercrime and regulate the impact of digital assets on the economy. A notable update to the UK's proceeds of crime and anti-terrorism laws is the elimination of the requirement for an arrest prior to crypto seizure. This specifically targets criminals who maintain anonymity or operate from overseas. Law enforcement also has the power to take possession of items like written passwords or memory sticks that could assist in investigations and can transfer illicit digital assets to government-controlled electronic wallets to hinder criminal access.

The new powers also include the ability to destroy specific digital assets, particularly privacy coins, that provide high anonymity and are frequently used in illegal activities. This step curbs these assets from re-entering the circulation. Victims of crime can now request the release of funds held in crypto accounts. This measure, according to Home Secretary James Cleverly, will facilitate national security and support economic growth via legitimate crypto uses. The NCA, with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, has already put these powers into practice, taking down a multimillion-dollar drug network and seizing $150 million in cash and cryptocurrencies.

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