Tuesday 13 July 2021 10:31 am

Met Police seize £180m of crypto in money laundering sting

Detectives in London have smashed an international money laundering operation, seizing £180m in cryptocurrency.

It is the largest sum of cryptocurrency ever confiscated in the UK, and comes less than a month after the same team seized £114m in digital assets in a similar operation.

It is understood a 39-year-old woman who was arrested on June 24 has also been interviewed in connection with this latest seizure and subsequently released on bail.

The operation was spearheaded by The Met’s specialist economic crime command following intelligence reports regarding “the transfer of criminal assets”.

Graham McNulty, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, praised the economic crime command’s officers for their methodical approach to snaring the cyber criminals.

“Proceeds of crime are laundered in many different ways,” he said.

“While cash still remains king in the criminal world, as digital platforms develop we’re increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money.

“The detectives on this case have worked tirelessly and meticulously to trace millions of pounds worth of cryptocurrency suspected of being linked to criminality and now being laundered to hide the trail.

“Our investigation will stop at nothing to disrupt the transfer and identify those involved.”

It is unknown which cryptocurrencies were seized in the raid.

Speaking to City AM, cyber security specialist Jake Moore of ESET, said the Met’s swoop showed an impressive level of determination to crack crypto crime.

“In what will be a huge blow to criminal gangs behind money laundering, this is an extremely rare outcome,” he said.

“Painstaking intelligence gathering over long periods of time would have taken a tremendous amount of time and resources, which unfortunately is not possible for all cybercrime investigation.”

He also predicted the balance of power may now be tilting towards law enforcement as police teams become more skilled at tackling cyber crime.

“The amount of disruption caused by this seizure represents the new wave of law enforcement techniques used to infiltrate gangs which have long had the upper hand,” he added.

“This highlights that cybercrime doesn’t always pay, and even when the attackers themselves remain anonymous, our law enforcement’s secondary tactic is to fight back with their own version of disruption and cause major headaches for those at large.”