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UK police seize $250 million in cryptocurrency tied to an international money-laundering operation

Business Insider logo Business Insider 7/13/2021 insider@insider.com (Carla Mozée)
a close up of a hand: Suspected criminals have been using cryptocurrency in money-laundering operations. Photo illustration by Edward Smith/Getty Images © Photo illustration by Edward Smith/Getty Images Suspected criminals have been using cryptocurrency in money-laundering operations. Photo illustration by Edward Smith/Getty Images
  • UK police seize £180 million in cryptocurrency, Metropolitan Police said Tuesday.
  • The team of detectives who seized the funds just weeks ago took hold of a then-record £114 million in crypto.
  • A 39-year old woman was arrested on suspicion of money-laundering offenses.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Police in the UK following a criminal investigation took hold of about £180 million in cryptocurrency, with the seizure topping a record amount made just weeks before by law enforcement.

Metropolitan Police on Tuesday said detectives with its Economic Crime Command received intelligence about the transfer of criminal assets, leading to the July 10 discovery of nearly £180 million ($249 million) worth of cryptocurrency. The Met didn't specify the type of cryptocurrency that was seized. The detectives have been focusing on an ongoing investigation into a suspected international money laundering.

A 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering offenses on June 24, the Met said, adding that she was released on bail.

The same team of detectives on June 24 seized £114 million in cryptocurrency - then a record amount - as part of their probes.

"Proceeds of crime are laundered in many different ways. While cash still remains king in the criminal world, as digital platforms develop we're increasingly seeing organized criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money," said Graham McNulty, the Met's deputy assistant commissioner, in a statement.

Police said the investigation has been complex and wide-ranging and will continue for months to identify the people at the center of the money-laundering ring.

Meanwhile, in the US, a "prolific identity thief" who fraudulently used credit cards, pocketed $500,000, and bought bitcoin has been sentenced to three years in prison, according to the federal court in Seattle.

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