One of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency seizures has been made by British authorities.
London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed it had taken custody of digital assets worth £114 million ($158.5 million).
The force’s Economic Crime Command said the seizure came “on the back of intelligence received about the transfer of criminal assets.”
Detective Constable Joe Ryan said:
“Criminals need to legitimise their money otherwise it risks being seized by law enforcement. 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.”
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty said that “cash remains king,” but he warned that criminals are now seeking more sophisticated methods as they attempt to launder profits generated through illicit means. He added:
“We have highly trained officers and specialist units working day and night to remain one step ahead.”
How It Happened
At present, we don’t know the type of cryptocurrency that was seized by the Met — or the method that was used.
Officials often prefer to be tight-lipped over their techniques as this could disrupt their success in future operations.
Despite many assuming that Bitcoin is fully anonymous, it is possible to trace the flow of funds on the blockchain — and Know Your Customer checks performed by exchanges mean that it can be possible to link specific accounts to individuals.
A number of blockchain intelligence firms have also emerged that aim to assist law enforcement agencies as they investigate criminal matters.
One such firm, Chainalysis, announced on Thursday that it had managed to raise $100 million during a Series E funding round — taking its valuation to $4.2 billion in the process.