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U.K. law enforcement gets news powers to seize crypto

The United Kingdom has introduced new measures to bolster law enforcement agencies’ powers in seizing cryptocurrencies associated with criminal activities.

The U.K. Home Office announced on Friday (Apr 26) that these new rules, which stem from a crime bill passed by Parliament last year, have come into effect. Under the new regulations, police officers in the U.K. will no longer need to arrest confiscating crypto assetsç

Greater powers for the National Crime Agency and police to seize, freeze and destroy cryptoassets used by criminals have come into force today.

This change aims to streamline the process of seizing criminally obtained assets, even when sophisticated criminals manage to conceal their identities or operate from overseas locations. The U.K. police force has already deployed crypto tactical advisors nationwide and has successfully seized crypto worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

In a notable case from January, the country’s National Crime Agency collaborated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to investigate a drug enterprise, resulting in the seizure of $150 million in cash and crypto. Chief Crown Prosecutor Adrian Foster emphasized the importance of these new measures in enabling investigators and prosecutors to keep pace with the evolving nature of crime.

U.K. crypto laws set to tighten

The seized crypto assets will be transferred to wallets controlled by law enforcement agencies, and officers will have the authority to destroy these assets if reintroducing them into circulation is deemed detrimental to the public good. Privacy coins, in particular, were highlighted as an example of asset types that may be destroyed after a seizure.

Home Secretary James Cleverly underscored the significance of these reforms in enhancing national security, noting that terrorist organizations like Daesh are known to exploit crypto transactions for fundraising purposes. The updated powers will enable agencies to more effectively strip these groups of their assets.

The development follows recent reports that the United Kingdom Treasury plans to introduce a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and stablecoins by July 2024. The UK has been hard at work on crypto regulation for a good while and back in late October 2023 it released its definitive guidelines for the cryptocurrency sector, with intentions to enact legislation in stages starting this year.