Since the UK began hunting money launderers, British police have managed to seize over $408 million (£294 million) worth of illegal cryptocurrencies. This shows that the general situation with money laundering using cryptocurrencies in the United Kingdom is alarming.
Cash is still the king of criminal activity, but advances in fintech have forced some criminals to switch to more complex methods of moving dirty money, such as using Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies.
While the large percentage of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency transactions in the UK are legal, the privacy and cross-border nature of cryptoassets make them smart for criminals, including money launderers.
Criminals have moved over $2 trillion in transactions worldwide in the form of money laundering. The intelligence department of US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) designated the UK as a higher risk country as more than 3,000 UK-registered companies appeared in the Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).
Last month (June 24), the UK Metropolitan Police, in conjunction with the Economic Crime Command, managed to seize around $160 million worth of cryptoassets as part of an ML investigation. This was recorded as the highest ever cryptocurrency seizure in the country and was also among the highest ever events in the crypto industry globally.
Also on July 13, UK police still seized cryptoassets worth $250 million after illegal groups moved illicit funds (money laundering) into cryptocurrencies. This dirty money (£180M) is believed to have been laundered on July 10.
The UK government is not idle, it has made several attempts to deal with this dire situation. Last week, authorities launched an investigation into crypto exchange Binance related to money laundering issues, according to CoinIdol, a world blockchain news outlet.
The investigation came a few days later after Japan's Financial Services Agency (FCA) suspended the operations of the crypto exchange in question. On the same day (June 28) Binance, which is accused of ML and other compliance issues, was ordered to shut down its Ontario Province operations in Canada.
This shows that various governments, including the UK, are doing all they can to combat fraud and money laundering involving BTC and other digital currencies.
The UK government has also unveiled plans to amend its business registry to effectively combat fraud and all methods of money laundering, including the use of cryptocurrencies.
For example, the authorities will introduce mandatory identity verification to help them track down criminals using cryptocurrencies to commit fraud and ML. The government also proposes to give the Companies House a lot of power to question, invest and remove false information.
This will help give the public, the fintech industry and other businesses unprecedented confidence in cryptocurrency transactions.
In addition, these reforms will restore confidence in the public and businesses as they will be able to know who they are transacting with. The changes will bring unmatched accuracy to the information in the registry, minus the speed of service.