The Metropolitan Police have seized £180 million (US$249 million) in digital currencies in what’s being labeled as the largest digital currency haul in the U.K. and among the largest globally. The money is alleged to be the proceeds of a money laundering ring, with a 39-year-old woman at the center of the high-stakes crime.
In a statement, the Met revealed that the seizure was made by detectives from its Economic Crime Command after receiving intelligence about the transfer of criminal assets.
The Met has increased its focus on digital currencies in light of its use in illicit activities, especially money laundering. A month ago, outgoing Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher said that the force is lobbying the government to crack down on these digital assets. On June 24, the force seized $158 million in digital currencies, which was considered the biggest haul in the country at the time.
And now, the Met has broken this record.
“Less than a month ago we successfully seized £114million in cryptocurrency. Our investigation since then has been complex and wide-ranging. We have worked hard to trace this money and identify the criminality it may be linked to,”Detective Constable Joe Ryan commented.
The detective added that the force will continue the investigation into the digital currency money laundering ring and “hone in on those at the centre of this suspected money laundering operation.”
According to the statement, the force had arrested a 39-year-old woman in June in connection to the first seizure. She was later released on bail. Upon the second seizure, the police brought her in again for questioning and later bailed her to an undisclosed date in July.
The police didn’t reveal which digital currencies in particular they seized.
When it comes to illicit activities, cash is still king, deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty commented. However, “as digital platforms develop we’re increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money.”
Authorities also warned criminals who think they can operate under the shadows by using digital currencies, reminding them that the Met can now dig into digital assets just as easily as other financing methods.
“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… Those linked to this money are clearly working hard to hide it. Our investigation will stop at nothing to disrupt the transfer and identify those involved,”he stated.