A bill was introduced in the United Kingdom’s parliament that would “make it easier and quicker for law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency to seize, freeze and recover cryptoassets.”
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill “cracks down on economic crime, strengthening the powers of legal services regulators while reducing money laundering, fraud and breaches of sanctions,” according to a statement on Twitter from the Ministry of Justice.
The bill targets so-called “dirty money” in general. Russia, Ukraine, sanctions, cybercriminals, drugs, fraud, and cryptocurrencies all make appearances in the article about the bill on gov.uk:
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will strengthen the UK’s reputation as a place where legitimate businesses can thrive while driving dirty money out of the UK. Through the reforms, anyone who registers a company in the UK will need to verify their identity, tackling the use of companies as a front for crime or foreign kleptocrats.
The reforms to Companies House – its biggest upgrade in 170 years – will also see the organisation armed with new powers to check, challenge and decline incorrect or fraudulent information, making it a more active gatekeeper over company creation. The investigation and enforcement powers of Companies House will also be upgraded, enabling the organisation to cross check data with public and private partners, as well as reporting suspicious activity to security agencies and law enforcement.
The Bill will also help prevent the abuse of limited partnerships – including those registered in Scotland, for money laundering and other nefarious purposes – by tightening registration and transparency requirements for these entities.
Law-abiding businesses and investors across the UK will benefit from simplified filing requirements and a more reliable companies register to inform business and lending decisions. The reforms will ensure that small business owners, consumers and the public are better protected from fraudulent use of their identities and addresses.
Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said:
We want the UK to be the best place in the world to invest and start a business, but we must not allow this openness to be exploited by fraudsters misusing the identities of innocent people, or corrupt elites attempting to disguise their dodgy dealings.
This historic Bill will equip Companies House and law enforcement with the tools they need to root out criminals attempting to hide their activities without burdening law-abiding companies with unnecessary bureaucracy. Above all, via strict enforcement measures, we are telling investors that the UK is open for legitimate business only.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:
The UK is no home for dirty money. The government has taken unprecedented action to prevent kleptocrats and organised criminals from abusing our open economy, and this Bill will go even further.
Through this Bill we are giving our law enforcement agencies greater powers and intelligence capabilities to stay one step ahead of the criminals intent on keeping their corrupt assets out of reach.
Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said:
As the former chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, I commended the government on the swift legislative action it took on dirty money following the invasion of Ukraine, but I implored them to go even further.
I am delighted that today we are introducing reforms that will make it much harder for kleptocrats to shield their ill-gotten gains and treat the UK as their safe deposit box. As Security Minister, I am committed to delivering this vital piece of legislation to strengthen our fight against economic crime.
Law enforcement will also benefit from greater powers to compel businesses to hand over information which could be related to money laundering or terrorist financing. Red tape around confidentiality liability will be eased to enable businesses to share information to more proactively prevent and detect economic crime including fraud and sanctions evasion.
The new law will make it easier and quicker for law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency to seize, freeze and recover cryptoassets – the digital currency increasingly used by organised criminals to launder profits from fraud, drugs and cybercrime.
The use of this digital currency has significantly increased in recent years, with the Metropolitan Police reporting a big rise in cryptocurrency seizures last year. Strengthening powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act will modernise the legislation to ensure agencies can keep pace with the rapid technological change and prevent assets from funding further criminality.
The package of measures will build upon the earlier Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act, brought in following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The act has made it much quicker to impose tough sanctions on Putin’s cronies – freezing their UK assets and cutting off funds to the Kremlin’s war machine – as well as establishing the recently launched Register of Overseas Entities to root out corrupt oligarchs attempting to hide ill-gotten gains through UK property.
Director General of the National Crime Agency Graeme Biggar said:
Domestic and international criminals have for years laundered the proceeds of their crime and corruption by abusing UK company structures, and are increasingly using cryptocurrencies. These reforms – long awaited and much welcomed – will help us crack down on both.
Companies House Chief Executive Louise Smyth said:
We welcome the measures outlined in this Bill, which represent the most significant and far-reaching changes to the UK’s company register in over 170 years of history and will enable us to play a much stronger role in making the UK a great place to do business.
If agreed, these changes will allow us to actively improve and maintain the integrity of the register like never before; inspire greater trust in our data, crack down on economic crime and further drive confidence in the UK economy.
While the scale and scope of these changes should not be underestimated, the work already done through our wide-ranging and ongoing transformation programme puts us in a strong position to implement them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Customs officials in the Czech Republic seized cryptocurrency for the first time as part of an investigation into a suspected drug trafficking group.
Seven suspected drug dealers in the Czech Republic have been buying bulk quantities of drugs on the darkweb to resell throughout the Czech Republic, according to an announcement from Customs. Customs accused the group of regularly purchasing MDMA, LSD, and anabolic steroids on the darkweb for at least five years. In addition to sourcing drugs on the darkweb, the group also produced methamphetamine and cultivated marijuana.
The owner of a cryptocurrency exchange was sentenced to 121 months in prison for money laundering and conspiracy to commit a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) offense.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert E. Weir sentenced Rossen G. Iossifov, 53, formerly of Bulgaria, for conspiracy to commit a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) offense and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Finnish Customs has agreed to sell the Bitcoins seized in connection with drug cases, including 1,666 Bitcoins confiscated from the Finnish ‘darknet drug lord’ known as Douppikauppa.
The customs agency, Tulli, has decided to sell 1,981 Bitcoin worth $76 million.Tulli seized the majority of the Bitcoin–1,666 Bitcoins–during the Douppikauppa case in 2016. The value of Bitcoin has increased more than 100 times since the seizure in 2016.
The popular Monero (XMR) to Bitcoin (BTC) exchange, XMR.to, is shutting down as a result of increasingly invasive money laundering laws and regulations.
XMR.to, an exchange that allows users to anonymously exchange Monero for Bitcoin, is shutting down. The writing has been on the wall for a while now, especially after draconian money laundering laws forced XMR.to to deny service to users in specific regions, such as the United States.
The Department of Justice filed a civil complaint to forfeit 69,370 Bitcoin linked to the Silk Road.
A few days ago, the blockchain analytics firm CipherTrace spotted two transactions sent from Bitcoin addresses associated with the Silk Road marketplace. On November 5, 2020, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Northern District of California announced the filing of a civil complaint to forfeit thousands of Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and Bitcoin SV. Law enforcement seized the Bitcoin on November 3.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) Office of Inspector General audited the Postal Inspection Service’s policies and procedures for managing cryptocurrency during investigations.
The audit seemingly focused on internal policies that helped prevent employees of the Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) from compromising undercover investigations. It additionally highlighted the potential for fraud or theft due to the fluctuating prices of cryptocurrencies and the lack of oversight in some investigations.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen defended the controversial elements of the recently proposed American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda. The legislation would require banks and other financial services, including cryptocurrency asset exchanges and custodians, to report information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) on transactions or balances worth $600 or more. In a recent interview, Yellen called the new requirements “routine.”
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