The United Kingdom announced legislation Thursday to make it simpler for law enforcement authorities to confiscate, freeze, and reclaim crypto assets used in illicit activities like money laundering, drug trafficking, and cybercrime.
The 250-page Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, initially announced in May, was submitted by the Home Office, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Serious Fraud Office, and Treasury, and it includes provisions for more than simply cryptocurrency. It received its first reading in the House of Commons on Thursday, with the second reading set for October 13.
Graeme Biggar, director general of the U.K.’s National Crime Agency, said:
“Domestic and international criminals have for years laundered the proceeds of their crime and corruption by abusing U.K. company structures, and are increasingly using cryptocurrencies. These reforms – long-awaited and much welcomed – will help us crack down on both.”
The bill was initially introduced by King Charles — who was still Prince at the time — in May during the Queen’s Speech to both chambers of the United Kingdom Parliament. The country’s Economic and Finance Ministry is also aiming to include stablecoins as a payment method in its regulatory framework.
According to the UK government, extending the government’s capacity to confiscate, freeze, and reclaim cryptocurrency based on law makes it easier to inflict harsh penalties on anyone associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.
Following the lead of other countries, the Treasury modified instructions earlier this month to require crypto exchanges and wallet providers to notify suspected sanction violations. The United States and the European Union also underlined that their penalty provisions apply to cryptocurrency.
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