In its annual report, the NCA, the UK agency dedicated to tackling SOC, revealed that during the period April 1st 2021 to March 31st 2022 it confiscated $26.9m (March price) in cryptocurrency assets.
In the financial year before no cryptocurrency was seized at all, indicating the growing importance of digital money to organised crime gangs.
Over the 2021-22 report period, more virtual currency was seized than fiat currency (£26m) or physical assets (£7m). Some of these assets though “may still be liable to be returned.”
Tracking and confiscating the digital proceeds of crime was central to one of the NCA’s core strategic priorities in 2021-22 in an attempt to reduce the harm from economic crime caused to individuals, institutions and the UK economy. Fraud and financial exploitation, cybercrime and money laundering are the largest threats.
Morgan Heavener, a partner at consultancy Accuracy, said “the NCA has been forced to move swiftly to try and stem the use of these cryptocurrencies in financial crimes. The lack of regulatory oversight around cryptocurrencies makes them attractive for criminals seeking to move funds around the world.”
“Financial institutions and professional services firms handling cryptocurrency assets need to ensure they have the most stringent due diligence in place to ensure they do not inadvertently facilitate financial crimes, including money laundering. Failure to do so can lead to punitive fines or even criminal proceedings.”