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UK lawmakers green-lit the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill today, a new piece of legislation aimed at tackling a wide range of criminal activities, including drug trafficking, cybercrime, and terrorism.
The bill, which has been under discussion since its September introduction last year and saw several amendments, is also set to strengthen law enforcement's ability to seize and freeze illicit cryptocurrency assets.
The legislators expect that by expanding the arsenal of tools available to local law enforcement agencies, the UK will see faster and more substantial seizures of crypto connected to criminal activities.
One such measure is the expansion of law enforcement's powers to seize digital assets without requiring a prior conviction, which will allow authorities to act swiftly in cases where there is strong evidence linking cryptocurrency to criminal activities.
As of now, cryptocurrency assets linked to illegal activities can be subject to freezing but cannot be confiscated in criminal cases unless an individual has been arrested and convicted.
“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,” the government said last year. “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 bill is poised to receive royal approval later on Thursday, officially becoming law and enhancing the authority of law enforcement agencies.
UK seeks to regulate crypto
This latest legal development is in line with the government's commitment to rigorous regulation of cryptocurrencies as part of its economic crime strategy spanning from 2023 to 2026.
When presenting the strategy in March, lawmakers also announced their plans for adopting the Financial Action Task Force's Travel Rule—a set of guidelines designed to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing, which applies to virtual asset service providers (VASPs) and financial institutions engaged in digital assets transactions.
“The government continues to monitor and adapt to new developments in the cryptoasset industry to mitigate financial crime and other risks, particularly fraud,” said the document. “A staged and proportionate approach to regulation recognizes that, challenging as it is, effective cryptoasset regulation benefits everyone, including consumers and firms.”