GBP 4bn “laundered” using cryptocurrencies

Europol warns the usage of the digital money for illegal purposes is growing

by Viko
13 February • 1 min
In News

Some GBP 3-4 billion have been laundered through cryptocurrencies or about 3-4% of the money made through criminal activities in Europe, Europol’s director Rob Wainwright told the BBC.

It’s important that industry leaders and regulators work together to face the problem and prevent consolidation of criminal cartel, warns Wainwright.

According to police officials, the nature of the unregulated and anonymous crypto market allows these transactions to pass virtually unnoticed and makes them really popular among criminals. Another huge problem Europol faces is that even if a transaction is suspected to have a criminal origin, there is no way of blocking it, unlike the traditional bank accounts.

The most used method of laundering illegal money is by buying Bitcoins and distributing them among hundreds of people, who have seemingly no connection to criminals. The police call them money mules. When they receive their crypto payment, coins are turned back to cash and returned for a small revenue. It is considered next to impossible to identify who is making the transaction. Huge amounts of money are converted into Bitcoins and that trend is quickly getting pace, officials warn.

Wainwright called for mutual work with the Bitcoin industry, because the police is “investigating very large-scale crime”.   

Forcing the traders in revealing the identities of parties involved in suspicious transactions and giving additional information about supposedly illegal activities will be proposed by the Treasury Select Committee later this year.