Police have seized a cryptocurrency hoard worth £114m while investigating money laundering offences, in what is the UK’s largest seizure to date.
The Metropolitan Police’s Economic Crime Command said it is also believed to be one of the largest seizures globally. An investigation is still ongoing.
“Cash remains king, but as technology and online platforms develop, some are moving to more sophisticated methods of laundering their profits,” said deputy assistant commissioner Graham McNulty in a 24 June statement.
“[Our] officers not only work to disrupt and seize funds being transferred digitally, they continue to deprive criminals of hard cash.”
No details were made public on which cryptocurrencies were included in the stash. A total of $1.9bn in theft, hacks and fraud were carried out using crypto last year, according to data from research firm Ciphertrace.
It comes after UK police discovered an illegal cryptocurrency mine in the West Midlands last month, having initially thought they were pursuing a cannabis farm.
Though cryptocurrency mining itself is not an illegal act, the mine was siphoning off thousands of pounds worth of electricity from bypassed mains utility networks.
The location and nature of the Met’s seizure was not disclosed, though the organisation serves as the police force for Greater London, excluding the City of London.
“Criminals need to legitimise their money otherwise it risks being seized by law enforcement,” said detective constable Joe Ryan.
“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.”
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