Crypto is "key" in fighting organized crime, according to Europol

Cryptocurrencies will be a major weapon in dismantling organized criminal organizations like the Kinahan Cartel, according to Europol, which has stated that they are "key" to fighting organized crime.

At the agency's 6th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies, law enforcement, cryptocurrency specialists, and financial investigators learned how the "unique" qualities of cryptocurrencies provide a "unprecedented opportunity" to probe organized crime.

The two-day conference's main topic was the rapidly growing cryptocurrency industry, and Europol acknowledged that its size and scope make it a great target for misuse.

"With the right tools, capacity and cooperation, the unique characteristics of blockchain-based technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity to investigate organised crime and money laundering networks and to recover stolen funds," according to a statement from Europol.

In an effort to evade law enforcement, it is rumored that organized criminal organizations like the Kinahan Cartel have converted part of their assets into cryptocurrencies.

New legislation will target criminals who use cryptocurrency to conceal their assets, according to a statement from Europol.

According to Europol, "professional money launderers are taking advantage of the ever-growing options provided by crypto-assets – from mining to decentralised services – to launder proceeds from both physical and cyber crimes."

"But law enforcement, regulators and the private sector are working hard to stay ahead of those who abuse crypto assets to commit crimes and launder money… Legislation is tightening. New EU regulations, for example, will ensure that crypto assets are treated like any other assets for the purpose of anti-money laundering regulation and supervision," the organization continued.

Cryptocurrency is getting more and more engaged in trade-based money laundering cases, and it has been connected to a variety of crimes, including drug trafficking, match-fixing in sports, and finance for nuclear proliferation, according to Europol.

The seizure, administration, and ultimate conversion of virtual assets into fiat cash are made easier, according to Europol, since law enforcement and judicial agencies are "increasingly treating virtual assets like any other asset from a legal perspective."

To combat organized crime and money laundering, both physically and virtually, it is essential for all parties, including regulators, law enforcement, and the corporate sector, to increase awareness and capability in the cryptosphere, according to Europol.

The European Parliament, research tanks, Binance, and specialized firms engaged in cryptocurrency investigations like Chainalysis and CipherTrace were among the other speakers at the conference.

The US-based Counterterrorism Group (CTG) warned that the Kinahan cartel was likely to start utilizing cryptocurrency in an effort to transport money out of Dubai, according to a June Sunday World report.

"The sanctions will very unlikely disrupt the KOCG’s criminal operations or impact its ability to generate funds due to its global illicit activities. The KOCG very likely takes advantage of weak anti-money laundering controls in the UAE to conceal the origins of its illicit finances, likely generating further funds for its criminal empire," according to the CTG.

The Kinahan Cartel's leaders were subject to penalties earlier this year, and Dubai authorities moved to freeze any associated bank accounts.


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