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. That's the equivalent of some R3.7 billion.
  • 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 offences.
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Police in the UK following a criminal investigation took hold of about £180 million in cryptocurrency (the equivalent of around R3.7 billion), 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 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 offences 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 organised 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 centre 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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