- The Public Prosecution Service of Netherlands landed a big loot on cryptocurrencies suspected to be part of criminal activities.
- The authority stated the preference individuals have for cryptocurrencies in illicit proceedings due to their anonymity.
The past few months have been eventful for the Public Prosecution Service of the Netherlands, Openbaar Ministerie (OM). That’s after it seized crypto worth approximately $29 million in BTC and ETH. The OM worked with the National Criminal Investigation office and the Netherlands Fiscale Inlichtingen en Opsporingsdienst (FIOD).
The seized digital assets came from different investigations that have been going on for a while now. This loot also stands as the largest the authorities have managed this year. However, they have not yet arrested any culprits related to the seized crypto because of its anonymous nature.
According to the OM report released on November 8, the involved parties were from the Netherlands and other countries. Nonetheless, the authorities are still working towards unveiling the criminals’ identities. The report also stated that the criminals used stablecoins instead of the two top cryptos to avoid hefty charges during the exchange.
The OM is the Dutch body charged with investigating and prosecuting criminal offenses in the country. On the other hand, the Netherlands Fiscale Inlichtingen en Opsporingsdienst handles financial crimes investigations. Lastly, the National Criminal Investigation office is under the Netherlands National Police Unit.
OM issues in tracking down the perpetrators
The OM expressed the trouble the three authorities faced in tracking the crypto transactions related to a money-laundering ring. In its opinion, bad actors in the financial industry prefer cryptocurrencies due to their decentralized and anonymity features.
Furthermore, they are a more efficient pathway to making cross-border money transfers, unlike fiat currencies. As such, the involved parties could exchange funds globally instantaneously without leaving much of a digital print.
The agencies have come across cryptocurrencies in cybercrime activities, such as ransomware attacks, as per the report. Additionally, they play a significant role in money laundering, financial fraud, tax evasion, human trafficking, and drug rings.
However, it mentioned that exchanges globally assisted in investigations to take control of the wallets involved. It added in the report that the exchanges had to exercise their due diligence per the Dutch law; hence, their cooperation.
On the question of the culprits, the OM expressed that international law dictates their transfer to their respective countries upon arrest. The investigations will continue with all hands on deck to ensure the conviction of the criminals.
Not the first money-laundering case in Holland
Late October this year found the Rotterdam District Court dealing with a similar case worth about $29 million. The involved couple was arrested for their involvement in money laundering on the Dark Web using Bitcoin. The court forced the couple to forfeit over 2500 BTC and approximately $290 000 in cash.
Besides the court fining the couple heavily, they received 2 and 2 and a half years of prison time, respectively. The court estimates the couple’s two-year activity to have involved over 16M Euros.
This incident proves the OM’s point that while crypto is legal, it still has a high affinity to crime-related transactions. It raises the question of whether this is why countries are working hard to have stringent crypto-related regulations.