Abuse expands with use in the case of cryptocurrency, Europol has acknowledged while also noting that blockchain technologies offer authorities a new opportunity to fight crime. Europe’s law enforcement agency also says they can help investigate money laundering networks.
Understanding Cryptocurrencies Is Vital to Tackling Organized Crime, Europol Says
The growing use of cryptocurrency across borders and industries comes with increasing abuse, new forms of crime, and money laundering, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) has concluded after a recent gathering with crypto experts, financial investigators, regulators, and representatives of business.
The 6th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies was recently held at the agency’s headquarters in the Netherlands. The two-day event was supported by the Basel Institute on Governance through the joint Working Group on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies and meant to boost collaboration among participating parties in investigating and prosecuting crypto-related crimes.
Europol Sees Tools to Tackle Crime in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technologies
Speakers also noted that when employing the right tools, blockchain technologies can “offer an unprecedented opportunity to investigate organized crime and money laundering networks and to recover stolen funds,” Europol said in a press release. It emphasized that increasing understanding and capacity in the crypto sphere is vital to tackling crime and the laundering of illicit money.
Law enforcement, regulatory bodies, and the private sector are working hard to stay ahead of those who try to abuse crypto assets, Europol remarked. The agency highlighted the tightening of EU legislation, with upcoming rules designed to ensure that digital currencies like bitcoin receive the same treatment as other assets in the context of money-laundering prevention. This is also easing seizure and management of crypto funds, the police authority added.
Europol further pointed out that investigators are taking advantage of blockchain-based tech to follow money flows, which has allowed them to identify not only scammers and hackers but also to expose more ‘traditional’ crime groups and money laundering networks. “Private companies are innovating fast to provide the tools and analytical capacity to trace funds laundered across multiple blockchains using different obfuscation techniques,” the agency said.
The latest edition of Europol’s crypto conference was attended by over 1,700 participants from 119 nations with speakers representing EU institutions such as the European Parliament, crypto service providers like Binance, the world’s leading digital asset exchange, blockchain forensics and asset recovery companies, including Chainalysis, alongside law enforcement officials from a number of European and other countries like the United States and South Korea.
The event follows important developments toward regulating Europe’s crypto space. This summer, key EU institutions and member states made a deal on the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulatory package after reaching an agreement to adopt a set of anti-money laundering rules for cryptocurrency transactions.