Met Police seize record £180 million of cryptocurrency

The amount tops the £114 million in cryptocurrency confiscated during a raid last month

London’s Metropolitan Police have carried out the UK’s largest cryptocurrency confiscation to date, seizing nearly £180 million. 

The raid was carried out on Saturday 10 July by detectives from the Met’s Economic Crime Command as part of an investigation into international money laundering.

The detectives had received a tip concerning the transfer of criminal assets and, following the confiscation, interviewed a 39-year-old woman under caution.

The same woman had been involved in the previously-highest cryptocurrency confiscation carried out by the Met, which saw them seize a sum equivalent to £114 million last month. She had since been released on bail.

The Met didn’t specify the type of cryptocurrency that had been confiscated nor as to how it was seized. A spokesman for the Met declined to provide any more details on the case.

Commenting on the news, deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty said that while cash is still the most popular form of payment used by criminals, the Met is “increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money”.

According to McNulty, this can be attributed to the development of digital platforms.

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“Whilst some years ago this was fairly unchartered territory, we now have highly trained officers and specialist units working hard in this space to remain one step ahead of those using it for illicit gain," he said.

"The detectives on this case have worked tirelessly and meticulously to trace millions of pounds worth of cryptocurrency suspected of being linked to criminality and now being laundered to hide the trail. Those linked to this money are clearly working hard to hide it,” he continued, adding that the Met’s investigation into the issue “will stop at nothing to disrupt the transfer and identify those involved”.

DC Joe Ryan said that, since seizing £114 million in cryptocurrency last month, the Met’s investigation into international money laundering has been “complex and wide-ranging”. 

“We have worked hard to trace this money and identify the criminality it may be linked to. Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the centre of this suspected money laundering operation,” he added.

Last month, an FOI revealed that crimes related to cryptocurrencies had increased 12-fold in the past four years, from 704 reported incidents in 2016 to almost 9,000 in 2020.

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