Although crypto currency exchanges operate in a relatively lawless arena, since January 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been empowered to regulate crypto currencies for money laundering purposes.
We can assist those accused by the FCA of failing to comply and those under investigation by other regulatory bodies.
In addition, the UK police are increasingly investigating businesses and individuals suspected of attempting to hide the proceeds of criminal conduct in crypto assets, including many which spread across jurisdictions and international boundaries.
Few industries have adopted crypto currency as readily as the criminal underworld, whether through criminal transactions conducted via the Dark Web, engaging in cyber-attacks, ransom demands or in connection with more traditional crimes such as fraud, drug trafficking or tax evasion.
The scale of this economy is increasing. In July 2021, as part of an investigation into suspected money laundering, the Met’s Economic Crime Command made its largest seizure of crypto currency so far when it seized approximately £180million worth of the asset, beating its previous record seizure, of £114million, achieved just the previous month. That seizure alone was reported to represent more than double the total amount of cash which had been seized by the force in the previous financial year.
Saunders Law are experts in all aspects of criminal defence, financial crime and able to assist those whose assets, including crypto assets, are frozen or at risk of confiscation.
Our team of lawyers also has the experience and expertise to assist all those under criminal investigation or those facing prosecution for crypto or blockchain related offences.
Victims of Crypto Crime
BITCOIN is just one of many ‘tokens’ which the term ‘crypto currency’ includes.
Like the rest, it exists only via distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) such as blockchain.
Despite this quality of intangibility, crypto assets and currencies are becoming increasingly attractive to criminals, largely due to the relative ease with which offenders can hide their identities in the virtual matrix in which they commit their crimes.
Fortunately, for the victims, blockchain and other DLTs maintain permanent records of all transactions and so whilst the criminal may disappear, the misappropriated virtual asset can usually be traced.
Our multi-disciplinary lawyers can assist victims of crypto currency crimes to trace missing assets, encourage those in possession of traced assets to suspend transfers and apply to the courts for orders pending recovery.
We can also assist victims to obtain compensation for loss caused by others, through actions in the civil courts, claims via the Financial Services Compensation Scheme and via private prosecution.
Is digital currency regulation about to become interesting?
On the 12th of July 2021, the Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham tabled a question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer regarding FCA regulation of digital currencies. This prompted an answer from John Glen, the Economic Secretary and Minister of State (Treasury), promising 'a robust anti money laundering regime for crypto assets', also acknowledging ‘that new and emerging forms’ could pose similar financial stability and consumer risks as traditional regulated payment systems, and hinting that further regulation is likely to be required to ensure ‘the same high standards that pertain in other areas of the financial services industry’.
We await the Government’s response to the latest consultation. Meanwhile, here is a link to the full question and answer.