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UK Crime Bill Lets Cops Freeze Crypto Faster, Channels Tainted Assets to Public Funding

UK Crime Bill Lets Cops Freeze Crypto Faster, Channels Tainted Assets to Public Funding

  • A new U.K. bill is set to give local authorities powers to freeze and confiscate crypto assets tied to crime if approved later this year.
  • Policy watchers say the bill could help prevent tainted assets from being moved before seizures in criminal cases, and possibly even contribute millions to public funding.
  • The U.K. is making it easier for cops to chase down crypto linked to crime with a new bill set to be finalized later this year – which policy watchers say could mean faster asset freezes and even some hefty contributions to the country’s public purse.

    The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, set to be enacted later this year, would give local courts and law enforcement agencies new powers to help freeze crypto they believe was used to launder money, traffic drugs, commit cybercrime and terrorism.

    Although local authorities have already seized hundreds of millions worth of crypto linked to crime, the bill could help block the movement of targeted assets faster by scrapping some legal hurdles – including requiring an arrest or conviction before cops can seize tainted crypto in criminal cases.

    In time-sensitive criminal investigations, a quick freeze order could be a game-changer.

    “This new bill enabling law enforcement to recover crypto assets in this way will be a powerful tool, and it is anticipated we will see a substantial increase in digital assets being recovered,” Louise Abbott, partner at Keystone Law told CoinDesk in a statement.

    What’s in the bill

    Provisions in the bill allow crypto linked to criminal activities to be seized and recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

    Right now, tainted crypto assets cannot be seized in criminal proceedings unless there is an arrest or conviction, which experts say could allow criminals to move targeted assets before cops can get court approval to freeze them. The new crime bill removes the arrest requirement and lets courts order the confiscation of assets before an arrest is made. Though assets can be frozen to prevent movement, they still can’t technically be seized from suspects until an arrest or conviction has been made.

    The change is a plus, according to Phil Ariss, director of U.K. public sector relations at TRM Labs.

    “One area this will be used is on occasions where assets have been identified, significant links to criminality can be proven, but the subject of the investigation is unlikely to face justice in the U.K. – think of those committing fraud outside of the…

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