This new bill may make it much easier for the UK police to seize crypto

The law would allow officers to confiscate any hardware, software, physical items or any other objects that would help them gain access to wallets

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The United Kingdom moved to advance a bill Tuesday that could make it much easier for officers and regulators to confiscate cryptoassets. 

While cryptoasset seizure is already an ongoing legal practice in the country, this new legislation seeks to grant significant new powers. In a reading Tuesday, lawmakers in the upper house of the UK Parliament elected to move ahead with the most recent amended version of the bill, which was last updated on June 27. 

If passed, the bill would expand authorities’ powers to seize cryptocurrencies and related materials. The law will allow officers to confiscate any hardware, software, physical items or any other objects that would help them gain access to wallets. 

The law also authorizes private companies in the UK to assist in helping the government access cryptoassets and store and invest any seized assets. These “UK-connected cryptoasset service providers” will be subject to an approval process and could face fines if they fail to comply with court orders and other regulations, the bill adds. 

Once cryptoassets are seized, the bill would direct the government to reinvest a “proportion” of the assets to be put toward targeting financial crimes. 

The original legislation was introduced in September 2022 as part of a broad effort to increase efforts targeting terrorist financing, UK lawmakers said

The UK confiscated its first cryptoassets in 2018, the government said. The seized assets totaled $1.5 million. In 2021, the country impounded its largest sum of crypto yet: $408 million from an undisclosed source. 

The bill, if passed, will also amend the UK’s 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act, which established the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), a group that was abolished in 2008. The Serious Organized Crime Agency now oversees the ARA’s responsibilities. 

The bill is not the UK’s only effort targeting illicitly-gained cryptocurrencies. The country’s Tax Authority in May started evaluating new regulations to help crack down on tax evasion in crypto. The effort, known as the Financial Services and Markets Bill, was signed into law late last month.


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