The new bill aims to “drive dirty money out of the UK” and brings wider reforms to combat fraud and money laundering.
A new bill making it “quicker and easier” for law enforcement seize and freeze crypto linked to criminal activity has successfully passed through UK Parliament.
The legislation, called the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, now awaits Royal Asset (a purely procedural step), which is expected today.
The 250-page bill builds upon the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act that was drafted in 2022 to crack down on “dirty Russian money in the UK” following the Ukraine war. It aims to tackle fraud and money laundering and applies to the wider financial and business sectors beyond cryptoassets.
Crucially, the bill removes the requirement for a person to have been arrested before having their assets seized. Before the bill, assets could not be seized without an arrest or conviction, giving criminals a window of opportunity to move funds before they are frozen.
A government factsheet clarifies the new bill, outlining that it can in certain circumstances, “remove the requirement for a person to have been arrested before seizure powers can be used earlier in the process, so that those assets can be more easily confiscated at a later date. These powers will apply to all assets but will be particularly useful in the context of cryptoassets.”
The legislation comes in tandem with the UK’s mission to become a “global crypto hub“.
Wider reforms: “Red tape” around confidentiality liability will be eased
The new bill will also deliver huge reforms to Companies House (the body that incorporates and dissolves limited companies), arming it with new powers to “check, challenge and decline” suspicious information as the organisation becomes a more “active gatekeeper” of company creation.
The bill will also bring reforms compelling businesses to share more information that may be linked to money laundering or terror financing.
“Red tape around confidentiality liability will be eased to enable businesses to share information to more proactively prevent and detect economic crime including fraud and sanctions evasion,” the government wrote.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “The UK is no home for dirty money. The government has taken unprecedented action to prevent kleptocrats and organised criminals from abusing our open economy, and this Bill will go even further.”
She added, “Through this Bill we are giving our law enforcement agencies greater powers and intelligence capabilities to stay one step ahead of the criminals intent on keeping their corrupt assets out of reach.”
Security Minister Tom Tugendhat also commented that the reforms will make it much harder for “kleptocrats to shield their ill-gotten gains and treat the UK as their safe deposit box”.
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