The British government has tabled a measure to increase the capacity of law enforcement to target cryptocurrencies used for illegal activities, with the goal of combating money laundering and fraud.
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill was introduced in Parliament on Thursday, according to a statement from the U.K. government, as part of efforts to keep “dirty money” out of the country.
The proposed legislation included measures to reduce “red tape around confidentiality liability” and provide law enforcement the power “to compel businesses to hand over information which could be related to money laundering or terrorist financing,” including crypto
The government stated that the new law will make it simpler and faster for law enforcement organizations like the National Crime Agency to seize, freeze, and recover crypto assets, the digital currency increasingly used by organized criminals to launder money from fraud, drug sales, and cybercrime.
Additionally, they think the law will modernize the legislation and improve the authority provided by the Proceeds of Crime Act so that agencies can keep up with the fast-paced technology advancements and avoid having assets used to fund additional criminal activity.
The National Crime Agency’s director general, Graeme Biggar, stated:
“Domestic and international criminals have for years laundered the proceeds of their crime and corruption by abusing U.K. company structures, and are increasingly using cryptocurrencies. These reforms — long awaited and much welcomed — will help us crack down on both.”
The bill was first introduced by King Charles, who was still a prince at the time, in May during the Queen’s Speech to both houses of the U.K. Parliament. Its purpose was described as “trying to tackle illicit finance, reducing economic crime, and helping businesses in expanding.” The nation’s Economic and Finance Ministry is also attempting to adapt its regulatory framework to accept stablecoins as a form of payment.
The government claims that during the invasion of Ukraine, legislation was passed that made it “quicker to impose tough sanctions” on anyone connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, extending the government’s capacity to confiscate, freeze, and reclaim cryptocurrency.
The passage of the measure came after a significant upheaval in the UK, which included the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the replacement of Boris Johnson as prime minister by Liz Truss.
The Metropolitan Police asserted that “a big rise in cryptocurrency seizures” had occurred in 2021 as the market and user base had expanded, according to the government. The authorities reportedly confiscated cryptocurrency linked to international money laundering worth 114 million and 180 million pounds, respectively, according to a July 2021 BBC article.