UK’s Economic Crime Bill Will Include Crypto Crackdown

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  • British ministers are today tabling the Economic Crime Bill which partly targets the crypto sector
  • The bill was already in the works but has been brought forward to target Russian oligarchs
  • The Economic Crime Bill will give UK authorities greater crypto seizure powers

British ministers will today table a new bill aimed at tackling money laundering within the isles, particularly within London, which will have an impact on the cryptocurrency sector. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has brought the Economic Crime Bill forward, with London famous for allowing Russian oligarchs to buy multi-million properties through proxies, with the bill also affording the government greater powers to seize crypto assets to tackle the growing threat from the use of online currencies for money laundering.

Economic Crime Bill Brought Forward

The Economic Crime Bill has been mooted for some time but in January it was pushed back until the 2023-24 parliamentary session in favour of measures with “more mass appeal”, but the current conflict has raised the urgency of the bill.

Today, ministers will propose what Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Sky News represents “a rolling programme of sanctions . . . targeting oligarchs’ private jets…properties and other possessions they have” adding that “There will be nowhere to hide”. This will include cryptocurrency holdings, which it has been claimed Russians are using to hide their money.

Crypto Seizure Powers Will be Extended

The official wording from the government on the Economic Crime Bill outlines how the crypto sector will be affected:

(The government will have) new powers to seize crypto assets and bring them within scope of civil forfeiture powers to tackle the growing threat from ransomware and the use of crypto assets for money laundering.

What this means in practice of course remains to be seen, but it seems that any holdings of cryptocurrency that the authorities believe may be in any way connected to crime will be seized from exchanges and any wallets not explicitly under a user’s control. To avoid accidental seizure of your funds, FullyCrypto recommends storing them off-chain in a cold wallet.