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New UK Law Empowering Authorities to Seize and Destroy Crypto Assets Takes Effect Today
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New UK Law Empowering Authorities to Seize and Destroy Crypto Assets

A new law enabling the National Crime Agency and police to seize, freeze, and destroy crypto assets is now in effect in the UK. 

Under this law, police can seize crypto from suspects without needing to make an arrest first. Additionally, victims have the right to request the release of funds held in crypto accounts that belong to them.

Crypto Seizure Law Goes Live in the UK Today

The British government announced on Friday that “new powers to seize crypto assets used by criminals” have gone live. 

The announcement states:

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

Asserting that “Organised criminals, including drug dealers, fraudsters, and terrorists, are known to increasingly use crypto assets to launder the proceeds of crime and raise money,” the announcement describes: “To tackle this emerging threat, the government has updated proceeds of crime and terror legislation, making it easier for UK law enforcement to effectively investigate, seize and recover illicit cryptoassets.”

Explaining the changes, the government detailed:

Police will no longer be required to make an arrest before seizing crypto from a suspect.

See Also: UK Authorises Police To Seize Illicit Crypto Without Arrests

“This will make it easier to take assets which are known to have been criminally obtained, even if sophisticated criminals are able to protect their anonymity or are based overseas,” the government emphasized, adding that “Items that could be used to give information to help an investigation, such as written passwords or memory sticks, can be seized.” 

Officers will have the authority to transfer illegal crypto assets to an electronic wallet controlled by law enforcement, thereby preventing criminals from accessing these funds.

In addition, “UK law enforcement will be able to destroy a crypto asset if returning it to circulation is not conducive to the public good. Privacy coins, for example, are a form of cryptocurrency that grant an extremely high degree of anonymity and are often used for money laundering,” the announcement adds. 

“Victims can request the release of funds held in a crypto assets account that belong to them.”

In January 2024, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized $150 million in cash and crypto from a major drug operation. Moreover, three men received over 20 years for trafficking £750,000 worth of counterfeit drugs online for crypto. 

In another case, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) confiscated three non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and arrested three people in a £1.4 million VAT fraud.

Adrian Searle, Director of the National Economic Crime Centre, opined: “Criminals are increasingly using crypto assets to conceal and move the proceeds of crime at scale and pace, pay for other criminal services, and as a means to defraud victims.” 

He stressed:

These new powers are very welcome and will enhance law enforcement’s ability to restrain, recover and destroy crypto assets if required.

What do you think about this new UK law that empowers British authorities to freeze, seize, and destroy crypto assets? Let us know in the comments section below.

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