UK Lawmakers Vote to Widen Authorities’ Powers in Seizing Crypto-Related Property

Lawmakers in the U.K. voted on Tuesday to grant authorities wider powers to seize property containing information that can help identify crypto assets related to crime.

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which is being debated in Parliament, already included rules to give authorities powers to seize and detain crypto tied to criminal activity.

New amendments accepted by lawmakers in the House of Commons (the lower chamber of Parliament) seek to give local law enforcement powers to also seize “crypto asset-related items,” which are items of property that contain or give access to information that could help assist in the seizure of targeted crypto assets.

“What this bill is doing is making sure that those assets that are held in crypto can be seized like other assets,” Tom Tugendhat, the minister of state responsible for crime and terrorism regulation said during Tuesday’s line-by-line reading of the bill.

The same amendment makes it an offense to assault or resist an accredited financial investigator trying to seize a crypto-related item. Yet another amendment accepted on Tuesday to the Civil Jurisdiction and Judgments Act 1982 ensures courts across the U.K. can ask authorities to seize and freeze crypto tied to crime. Measures that will ensure seized assets are not released until legal proceedings are concluded were also added to the bill.

“We should prioritize tightening regulation and enforcement by cracking down on the widespread use of such assets to defraud individuals and undermine our national security,” said Stephen Kinnock, the Labour shadow minister of the Home Office department, that deals with U.K. security matters.

The U.K. National Police Chiefs' Council, a law enforcement coordination body, has said it has already seized “millions of pounds worth of cryptocurrency assets,” and has crypto tactical advisors in police departments all over the country.

Rulemakers for crypto worldwide are closely eyeing the space after this year’s market downturn, and the more recent collapse of exchange giant FTX. Although the fallout may be prompting regulators to establish tougher controls over the industry, it is unclear if stricter rules could have prevented FTX’s demise.

"It's certainly arguable that FTX got into difficulties for other reasons other than lack of regulation. I'll leave it there," Tugendhat said.

The bill still has to pass the House of Commons and go through the upper chamber of Parliament before it is passed into law.

Read more: UK Introduces Law to Seize, Freeze and Recover Crypto