UK Law Enforcement Confiscates Bitcoin Worth Over £300 Million From Criminals

The explosive growth of the cryptocurrency industry in recent years has attracted not only individual and institutional investors into the space but also bad players in the industry.

Within the last five years, the UK law enforcement agencies have seized cryptocurrencies worth more than £300 million from criminals.

Recent data obtained by the New Scientist via Freedom of Information requests to the departments involved revealed that 12 of the UK's 48 police forces have seized cryptocurrencies worth a whopping £322 million.

Among the crypto coins seized, Bitcoin (BTC) was discovered to make up a large percentage of the figure, about 99.9%, with others including Ethereum(ETH), Monero (XMR), Zcash (ZEC), and Dash (DASH).

Per the report, London Metropolitan Police discovered the bulk of the illicit crypto, seizing about £294 million worth of bitcoin while the Greater Manchester Police seized £25 million.

London's Metropolitan Police had set two records of seizing crypto from criminals just weeks apart. Earlier in June, the agency confiscated a record £114 million worth of crypto.

Just a month later, the same department broke its previous record, confiscating a whopping £180 million worth of crypto as part of its investigation into an international money laundering case involving cryptocurrencies. 

The use of these crypto assets in facilitating crypto crimes due to the difficulties involved in tracing the identities of crypto holders is one of the major hindrances to mainstream adoption and a source of criticism from regulators.

However, in recent times, several financial regulators have discovered the potential that blockchain technology presents in tracing these criminals.

Unlike physical cash that is almost impossible to trace, crypto networks make use of blockchain technology which is open and public, allowing for greater transparency.

Therefore, with this revolutionary technology, crypto funds can be traced up to the point where the criminals attempt to convert them to cash using crypto exchanges.

To stay ahead of the curve, the UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) revealed in November that it is planning to spend about £500,000 in hiring bitcoin experts to train its staff on how to efficiently spot illegal transactions on decentralized networks.