Europol and the Basel Institute on Governance hosted the 6th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies last week in The Hague.
The financial investigators and crypto specialists who attended the conference agreed that while criminals are using Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, authorities do have a new way of tackling crime.
According to them, the blockchain technology that powers these cryptocurrencies can be the ‘key’ to accomplishing this goal.
There were also blockchain sleuths, such as TRM Labs, CypherTrace, and Chainalysis. These speakers all agreed on the fact that cryptocurrencies are expanding into every sector and every country.
However, this also means that it is facilitating new types of crimes.
Some of the illicit activities that have been carried out via crypto include manufacture, finance, acquisition and export and possession of weapons, match-fixing in sports, and drug smuggling.
Likewise, there is also a rising number of money launderers who are taking advantage of the anonymity that cryptocurrencies offer to launder proceeds from cyber as well as physical crimes.
But, the speakers agreed that blockchain technology could provide an opportunity for investigating money laundering and organized crime networks that use crypto and for eventually recovering the stolen funds.
This is because this technology is pseudonymous by nature and to a certain extent, it can be used for tracking crypto transactions.
However, experts added that they would need the right cooperation, capacity, and tools for dealing with organized crime.
Europol stated that everyone involved in tackling these criminal activities, such as regulators, law enforcement, and the private sector is trying to stay ahead of those who are using crypto assets.
The organization also added that in order to stay ahead of these criminal activities, they were counting on new legislation in Europe for ensuring that crypto assets are treated the same way as others.
This is applicable in terms of supervision and money anti-money laundering regulation. These new regulations had been finalized this year in June.
Under these rules, service providers like crypto exchanges would be required to collect and store information about those engaging in crypto transactions.
They would also have to share information with authorities that conduct investigations into these matters.
But, it should be noted that these new regulations would not be used for tracking unhosted and private wallets, even though the EU Parliament had intended on doing so back in March.
Europol said that with judicial authorities and law enforcement treating crypto like other assets from a legal viewpoint, it is becoming easier to seize, manage and then convert crypto into fiat money.
This is of the utmost importance for law enforcement authorities because crypto assets have been used by many criminals for getting away with their crimes because of the hurdles that existed before.
However, with proper regulations in place, they would hopefully be able to reduce these activities significantly.
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