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UK government introduces new bill to seize, freeze and recover crypto

The new bill aims to throw out dirty money out of the country

Published: Sep 23, 2022 05:56:11 PM IST

UK government introduces new bill to seize, freeze and recover cryptoImage: Shutterstock

The United Kingdom's government has introduced legislation to combat money laundering and fraud, specifically by expanding the authorities' ability to target crypto assets used for illegal purposes. The 250-page Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, first promised in May, was introduced by the Home Office, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Serious Fraud Office, and Treasury, and it includes provisions for more than just crypto.

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg called the bill 'historic.' In a public statement, he further added, 
"This historic Bill will equip Companies House and law enforcement with the tools they need to root out criminals attempting to hide their activities without burdening law-abiding companies with unnecessary bureaucracy. Above all, via strict enforcement measures, we are telling investors that the UK is open for legitimate business only."

The bill received its first reading in the House of Commons on Thursday. The second reading of the bill is set for October 13. The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill's goal is to keep 'dirty money' out of the country. The bill will strengthen the UK's reputation as a safe haven for legitimate businesses while driving dirty money out of the country. The reforms require anyone who registers a company in the UK to verify their identity, preventing companies from being used as a front for crime or foreign kleptocrats.

In a public statement, the UK government said, "The new law will make it easier and quicker for law enforcement agencies such as the National Crime Agency to seize, freeze and recover crypto assets — the digital currency increasingly used by organised criminals to launder profits from fraud, drugs and cybercrime…Strengthening powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act will modernise the legislation to ensure agencies can keep pace with the rapid technological change and prevent assets from funding further criminality."

The bill included provisions to reduce 'red tape around confidentiality liability' and to give law enforcement the authority to 'compel businesses to hand over information that could be related to money laundering or terrorist financing.' This includes information related to crypto transactions as well. The bill will also help to prevent limited partnerships from being abused by tightening registration and transparency requirements for these entities. It also includes those registered in Scotland for money laundering and other nefarious purposes.

Talking about the new bill, Graeme Biggar, director general of the National Crime Agency, said in the statement, "Domestic and international criminals have for years laundered the proceeds of their crime and corruption by abusing U.K. company structures, and are increasingly using cryptocurrencies…These reforms – long-awaited and much welcomed – will help us crack down on both."

The writer is the founder at yMedia. He ventured into crypto in 2013 and is an ETH maximalist. Twitter: @bhardwajshash

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