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UK police seize record €210 million of cryptocurrency while investigating money laundering

Police seized the cryptocurency as part of an investigation into criminal money laundering.
Police seized the cryptocurency as part of an investigation into criminal money laundering.   -   Copyright  Bermix Studio / Unsplash
By Euronews with Reuters

Police in London have seized record hauls of cryptocurrency totalling €344 million as part of an investigation into money laundering after organised crime groups moved into crypto to wash their dirty money.

The Metropolitan Police announced the seizure of £180 million (€210 million) of an undisclosed cryptocurrency on Tuesday.

It came less than three weeks after London police made a £114 million (€133 million) confiscation as part of a money laundering investigation in June.

The Met said its most recent crypto seizure was the UK's largest ever - and could even be one of the world's biggest.

'Cash is still king in crime'

"While cash still remains king in the criminal word, as digital platforms develop, we’re increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money," said Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty.

A 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering after the first haul was discovered and has been interviewed under caution over the €210 million discovery.

"Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the centre of this suspected money laundering operation," said Detective Constable Joe Ryan.

As cryptocurrencies are largely anonymous, convenient and global in nature, some of the world's biggest criminal groups have bet big on them as a way to launder money and stay one step ahead of the police, tax and security forces.

Cryptocurrency prices have fallen in recent months. Bitcoin peaked at just over €52,000 per coin in April, before dropping to the current price of around €28,000.

While the Metropolitan Police has not said which cryptocurrencies were seized in the July bust, the €210 million haul could have been worth almost half a billion euros just weeks ago.