Assets UK Bill Empowers Authorities to Seize Illegal Crypto Assets

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The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, aimed at tackling a range of criminal activities including drug trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism, was green-lit by UK lawmakers today. The bill, which has undergone multiple amendments since its introduction in September last year, is set to bolster law enforcement’s capacity to confiscate and freeze illegal cryptocurrency assets.

One such measure is granting law enforcement the power to seize digital assets without requiring a prior conviction, enabling them to act quickly in cases where there is strong proof linking cryptocurrency to criminal activities. At present, crypto assets connected to unlawful activities can be frozen but cannot be seized in criminal cases unless the individual is already arrested and convicted.

The UK government stated last year that 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”, and “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 expected to be granted royal approval later today, officially becoming law and reinforcing the authority of law enforcement agencies.

This legal initiative is in line with the government’s 2023-2026 economic crime strategy, which includes plans to adopt the Financial Action Task Force’s Travel Rule, a collection of guidelines to deter money laundering and terrorist financing, applicable to virtual asset service providers (VASPs) and financial institutions dealing in digital assets.

The government is also keeping a close watch on the cryptoasset industry and adapting to new developments in order to minimize the risks posed by financial crime and other issues such as fraud. A gradual and proportionate method of regulation acknowledges that, while it may be difficult, effective cryptoasset regulation is beneficial to all, including customers and firms.

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