UK police are lobbying the government for a change in the law to allow them to freeze cryptocurrencies. Scotland Yard detectives say that account-freezing orders do not currently apply to cryptocurrency wallets, making it difficult for police to stop criminals from transferring funds.
UK Police Want New Laws To Let Them Freeze Cryptocurrencies
The Times reported last week that Scotland Yard detectives are lobbying the government for new laws to allow them to freeze criminals’ crypto assets.
Chief Superintendent Mick Gallagher, a retired detective with the Metropolitan Police, explained that the laws on freezing assets are out of date, so cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, may not always be frozen or confiscated by police. Gallagher, who spent 37 years in the Metropolitan Police, retired at the end of last month.
“The conversation we are having is about how we align cryptocurrency with the same kind of approach that we have about cash-based criminality,” he told the publication, noting that “cryptocurrency is invisible. It’s instant, it goes around the world”, it’s not tangible.” The retired detective said that “one of the responses we have is the law,” emphasizing:
Because cryptocurrency, and crypto-related crimes, have evolved so rapidly, and because the law is so slow, we are now in talks about re-enacting some of the laws that currently apply to laundered cash for cryptocurrency. Huh.
Gallagher explained that current account-freezing orders and other money-laundering laws apply to cash and other assets, but not cryptocurrency, making it difficult for police to prevent criminals from transferring money from bank accounts.
He and other senior detectives are lobbying the government to change the laws relating to confiscation of property. Gallagher said the government has been supportive and willing to help him tackle organized crime, based on his discussions so far.
Gallagher said that “it’s all about the definitions,” elaborating:
In some of the laws we have about account-freezing orders, the word account is a key word. But in the world of cryptocurrencies there is no such thing as an account because they use a wallet. So you just have to make a slight legislative change so that the wording includes wallet.
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