Blockchain & Cryptocurrency , Cryptocurrency Fraud , Fraud Management & Cybercrime

UK Urged to Beef Up Seizures of Criminal Crypto

More Aggressive Seizures Will Combat Ransomware, Parliament Committee Hears
UK Urged to Beef Up Seizures of Criminal Crypto
Aidan Larkin testifying April 24 before the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy (Image: U.K. Parliament)

The United Kingdom should augment its cryptocurrency asset seizure abilities as part of an effort to combat ransomware and other cybercrime, a parliamentary panel heard.

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Lagging seizure abilities is a roadblock to identifying and disrupting activities of ransomware hackers who launder extortion payments through cryptocurrencies, Aidan Larkin, CEO of Asset Reality, a London-based asset recovery firm testified Monday before Parliament's Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy.

The committee in October opened an inquiry into ransomware (see: UK Companies Fear Reporting Cyber Incidents, Parliament Told).

British law enforcement, such as Metropolitan Police and the National Crime Agency, have seized cryptocurrency during criminal investigations, but the rate of seizures is not commensurate with the level of crypto adoption in the country, Larkin said at the hearing.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in April 2022 - when he was serving as chancellor - vowed to turn the U.K. into "a global hub for crypto asset technology." Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis said the country has the largest digital asset sector in Western Europe by transaction volume but also that "there has been little progress" toward Sunak's goal.

John Carlin, a former acting U.S. deputy attorney general, attributed the U.S. government's successful seizure of cryptocurrency paid by Colonial Pipeline as ransomware extortion to the government's classification of the incident as a threat to national security and public safety. "This supercharged the U.S. efforts, the creation of the international task force on ransomware, increased resources throughout government," he said.

About the Author

Akshaya Asokan

Akshaya Asokan

Senior Correspondent, ISMG

Asokan is a U.K.-based senior correspondent for Information Security Media Group's global news desk. She previously worked with IDG and other publications, reporting on developments in technology, minority rights and education.

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