July 7, 2023
By Anjali Kochhar
The UK’s Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, aimed at assisting law enforcement agencies in seizing and freezing cryptocurrencies used in criminal activities, has taken a significant step towards becoming law. The bill successfully passed through the upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords, on Tuesday, bringing it closer to entering the statute book.
Although the House of Lords did not make any changes to the crypto-related provisions of the bill, certain amendments were introduced during earlier stages of the parliamentary proceedings. These amendments ensured that the measures extended to cases involving terrorism and provided additional measures to assist authorities in identifying and seizing properties linked to crypto-based crimes. Furthermore, an amendment was added to empower courts to request the seizure and freezing of cryptocurrencies used for criminal purposes.
The UK government had already emphasised its commitment to combating the illicit use of cryptocurrencies as part of its three-year economic crime agenda, announced in March. To aid in this endeavour, the country had deployed crypto tactical advisers to police departments nationwide, supporting efforts to identify and seize digital assets associated with criminal activities.
Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Crime Agency, stated in September when the bill was introduced, “Domestic and international criminals have for years laundered the proceeds of their crime and corruption by abusing UK company structures, and are increasingly using cryptocurrencies. These reforms – long awaited and much welcomed – will help us crack down on both.”
Following approval by the House of Lords, the bill will now return to the House of Commons for the final stages before it can become law. Both houses of Parliament must reach an agreement on the document, and once they do, it will require the royal assent. The bill may undergo back-and-forth discussions and amendments between the chambers of Parliament until a consensus is reached.
If enacted, the bill will provide law enforcement agencies with enhanced tools to tackle the illicit use of cryptocurrencies, enabling them to seize and freeze digital assets involved in criminal activities effectively. By extending the scope of these measures to include terrorism cases and facilitating the identification of crypto proceeds tied to crime, the UK aims to strengthen its ability to combat financial crimes in the digital realm.
As the bill progresses through the final stages of parliamentary scrutiny, stakeholders and industry participants will closely monitor its development, anticipating its potential impact on the fight against crypto-enabled criminal activities in the UK.
About the author
Anjali Kochhar covers cryptocurrency stories in India as well as globally. Having been in the field of media and journalism for over three years now, she has developed a sharp news sense and works hard to present information that goes beyond the obvious. She is an avid reader and loves writing on a wide range of subjects.