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Bitcoin faces new controls as police call for new powers to freeze crypto assets in UK

Bitcoin is under tight control in the UK, as the country’s largest police force called for new powers to freeze cryptocurrency assets just days after a financial observer said many cryptocurrencies did not meet money laundering standards.

Detectives from the London Metropolitan Police, also known by the name of their headquarters Scotland Yard, want the opportunity to freeze the cryptocurrencies of criminals in the same way they can prevent them from transferring funds, the London Times reported on Monday.

The police service is also lobbying the government for legislative changes that make it harder for criminals to transfer crypto assets, according to the report.

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“The conversations we’re having are about how we bring cryptocurrency into the same approach we have about cash-based crime,” Mix Gallagher, chief detective at Scotland Yard’s Central Specialized Crime Command, told the Times. “Cryptocurrency is invisible, it is instantaneous, it travels around the world, it is not tangible.”

Crypto assets, such as BTCUSD bitcoin,

ethereum ETHUSD,
+ 0.45%,,
and even dogecoin DOGEUSD,
they can be bought, sold and sent anonymously, as transactions are encrypted with decentralized registry technology known as blockchain.

As these assets are not issued or controlled by a central bank or an official body, their use is largely unregulated and outside the scope of government intervention. As such, they can be a popular money laundering tool for criminals.

Plus: Overconfidence: Why mostly men under the age of 30 trade bitcoin

Scotland Yard’s call for new forces to curb cryptocurrency money laundering comes just days after a warning about the practice from the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial regulator and observer.

On June 3, the FCA stated that a “large number” of cryptocurrencies did not meet the required standards under money laundering regulations. The announcement came when the regulator shifted the deadline by which existing cryptocurrencies must register by eight months.

Earlier this year, the head of the European Central Bank called for global regulation of bitcoins, saying multilateral action was needed to stop “fun business” and money laundering. Speaking at a conference on January 13, Christine Lagarde said that bitcoin “has done some fun business and some interesting and completely reprehensible money laundering activities.”

Read: Police raid suspected cannabis farm only to detect illegal bitcoin mining operation: reports

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