In brief

  • London's police force has seized over $150 million in laundered crypto funds.
  • The seizure comes amidst growing concern about the role of crypto in crime.

London’s Met Police has seized $158 million worth of cryptocurrencies after investigating multiple money laundering offenses, per an announcement made yesterday. 

The seizure was carried out by the Met's Economic Crime Command. 

“The proceeds of crime are almost always laundered to hide the origin, but by disrupting the flow of funds before they are reinvested, we can make London an incredibly difficult place for criminals to operate,” said Met detective constable Joe Ryan. 

In the last financial year, the Met seized over $65 million from criminals--a sum which officials remind can never be “reinvested in crime” nor can it be used “to entice and exploit young and vulnerable people into criminality,” said deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty. 

The new money-laundering front

The Met Police accompanied this statement by re-emphasizing that “cash remains king” when it comes to financial crime, although there is a move to the digital space as technology develops and falls into the hands of criminals.

“We have highly trained officers and specialist units working day and night to remain one step ahead,” McNulty added. 

This view is in line with findings from the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which recently published its annual report on serious and organized crime. In that report, the NCA said that the wider adoption of Bitcoin could make life easier for criminals. 

As part of a wider pivot to new money laundering methods, the London Met previously told Decrypt it was “very much aware” of the financial crime risks associated with non-fungible tokens (NFTs), particularly how blockchain technology allows users—and ultimate beneficial owners—to conceal their identity.