UK Bill Would Allow Crypto Seizure Pre-arrest

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  • An imminent UK crime bill would enable the seizure of cryptocurrency assets before an arrest if there’s a risk suspects might move them out of reach.
  • The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will grant authorities the right to freeze crypto assets linked to money laundering, drug trafficking, cybercrime, and terrorism
  • The measure raises concerns about the potential seizure of assets belonging to innocent parties without due process

An incoming UK crime bill could allow cryptocurrency assets to be seized prior to arrest if authorities believe there is a risk that they could be put out of reach by suspects. The UK’s proposed Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill would grant local courts and law enforcement enhanced authority to freeze crypto assets suspected of being used in money laundering, drug trafficking, cybercrime, and terrorism, potentially resulting in faster asset freezes and increased contributions to public funds. Unlike the current requirement for an arrest or conviction before seizing tainted crypto assets, the bill eliminates this prerequisite, enabling courts to order asset confiscation before an arrest occurs. 

Bill Tweaked to Include Terrorism

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill has been edging closer to law over the past few months, having received approval from the upper chamber of Parliament in July. Certain amendments were made during these deliberations which will ensure that the measures encompass cases involving terrorism while additional provisions were included to assist authorities in confiscating assets that could aid in identifying cryptocurrencies associated with criminal behavior.

The reason for the new guidelines, which break with traditional financial law enforcement rules, has been made clear by the National Crime Agency, which claims that illicit crypto transactions linked to the UK hit approximately £1.24 billion in 2021. The new bill would empower authorities to seize crypto tied to criminal activity without a conviction, addressing cases where the subject cannot be prosecuted.

These measures aim to expedite enforcement work and prevent quick asset transfers that could hide illicitly gained funds. The bill does, however, raise the possibility of innocent parties having their assets seized without due process.