Criminals Use Cryptocurrencies in $5.5-B Money Laundering — BBC report

Feb 13, 2018 at 13:40

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) said cryptocurrencies have become avenues for criminals for their money laundering in Europe, estimated to reach as much as $5.5 billion, according to a BBC report.

Europol director Rob Wainwright told BBC’s Panorama said the agency has grown concerned over growing use of digital currencies in money laundering activities of criminals.

Of the £100 billion worth of illegal proceeds in the continent, three to four percent are through cryptocurrencies, he said.

“They’re not banks and governed by a central authority so the police cannot monitor those transactions,” Wainwright said. “And if they do identify them as criminal they have no way to freeze the assets unlike in the regular banking system.”

Europol said the process starts by converting criminal money into Bitcoins, the most widely used digital currency, and then broken down into smaller amounts to be distributed to different recipients before returning it to the original sender in cash.

Last December, the European Union (EU) has decided to impose stricter regulations to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing through cryptocurrencies.

The agreement among EU states and legislators came after Bitcoin’s price skyrocketed to 1,700 percent since the start of the year to near $20,000 levels, raising concerns over cryptocurrency bubble burst.