UK passes bill to enable authorities to seize Bitcoin used for crime

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Lawmakers in the United Kingdom have passed legislation allowing authorities to seize and freeze cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) if used for illicit purposes.

According to official data on the U.K.’s parliamentary acts website, the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill is expected to receive royal assent on Oct. 26, meaning the bill would complete all the parliamentary stages in both houses of parliament.

Introduced in September 2022, the passed legislation aims to expand authorities’ ability to crack down on the use of cryptocurrency in crimes like cybercrime, scams and drug trafficking.

One of the provisions of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill permits the recovery of crypto assets used in crimes without conviction, as some individuals may avoid conviction by remaining remote. The legislation also aims to combat the use of digital assets “for the purposes of terrorism” or related reasons.

The latest crypto-related legal development in the U.K. aligns with the government’s plans to “robustly” regulate crypto to fight the illicit use of digital assets as part of its economic crime plan from 2023 to 2026. In March, U.K. lawmakers said they targeted to pass the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill by the fourth quarter of 2023, in addition to adopting the Financial Action Task Force’s Travel Rule.

Related: California bill aims to cap crypto ATM withdrawals at $1K per day to combat scams

As the U.K. government has been cracking down on crypto-related crimes, the country has emerged as a major cryptocurrency economy. According to an October 2023 report by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, the U.K. is the biggest crypto country in terms of raw transaction volume in Central, Northern and Western Europe.

In February 2023, the crypto tax platform Recap also reported that London was the world’s most crypto-ready city for business, coming in ahead of Dubai and New York.

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