UK's FCA Flagged Some Crypto Firms Seeking Regulatory Approval to Law Enforcement

The U.K.'s financial regulator referred some crypto companies that tried to register with it to law enforcement agencies, an official at the agency said in a letter published on Thursday.

"Overall, in the small number of cases where we have identified likely financial crime or direct links to organized crime we have referred these to law enforcement agencies," Sarah Pritchard executive director of markets supervision, policy and competition at the Financial Conduct Authority said in a letter to the Treasury Select Committee dated Jan. 19. "Some of those law enforcement investigations remain ongoing."

On Wednesday, the regulator said it had received 300 applications from crypto companies seeking approval to serve customers in the country under its anti-money laundering regime. Only 41 companies managed to register with the regulator while 195 companies were either refused or withdrew their application, the FCA said. Of the 300 applicants, 29 were rejected for failing to meet the FCA's requirements for approval.

The regulator has faced criticism for taking a tough stance on crypto because it was necessary, FCA CEO Nikhil Rathi said in a meeting last November.

"The FCA took a robust position during authorization so that the risk of criminality was significantly reduced, thus the high rejection rate," Pritchard said in the letter.

The U.K. has been increasing its efforts to regulate crypto. The police has stationed crypto tactical advisors across the nation. The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill being debated in Parliament will give law enforcement agencies more power to seize and freeze crypto used in criminal activities, while the Financial Services and Markets Bill could expand the FCA's own powers to police the industry.

The FCA declined to reveal how many crypto companies it had referred to law enforcement agencies.

Read more: UK’s FCA Issues Advice for Crypto Firms After Only 41 of 300 Applicants Win Regulatory Approval