Thanks to Dutch investigative services, criminals are about 25 million euros easier in so-called cryptocurrencies. The judiciary has seized the record amount in recent months in collaboration with the National Criminal Investigation Department and the Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (Fiod).
The investigative services say they are increasingly encountering cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum in investigations into drug and human trafficking, fraud and tax evasion. The coins are also used relatively often in digital crimes such as forcing a ransom after sending hostage software. In recent months, the Public Prosecutor’s Office (OM) has seized the digital wallet (wallet) of several dozen suspects. It is not always clear to the prosecution who is behind the wallets.
Yet their cryptocurrency has now ended up in the wallet of the judiciary. He then resells the seized coins, so that the proceeds (in euros) benefit the treasury. With the confiscation of 25 million euros in a few months, the judiciary has dealt a major blow compared to previous years. In the whole of 2020, she seized about 8 million euros in cryptocurrency, in 2019 another 1.1 million euros.
Mandatory registration for crypto companies
While investigative services note that criminals are increasingly paying in crypto, the oversight of this is also increasing. For example, every crypto company in the Netherlands has been required to register with the regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) for over a year now. DNB requires this registration in order to get a handle on which providers of this type of payment service exist in the Netherlands, but also requires that registration.
“The regulator is asking quite a lot of them,” says Maarten de Jong, crypto expert at Partner in Compliance consultancy. “The companies must show in detail what the organization looks like, who the managers are, which risk models they work with and much more.”
DNB must ensure that the sector complies with money laundering and sanctions legislation. Therefore, new customers, for example, have to prove that they are who they say they are. “This could be done, for example, as a crypto provider requiring new customers to submit a photo to verify their identification.” Transferring cryptocurrency in the Netherlands is only allowed to a wallet that is also managed by the person who wants to transfer something.
Every time he wants to do that, he has to prove that the other wallet is also his by sending a screenshot of its wallet address (a kind of account number). According to De Jong, this system is not watertight. For example, criminals can use cat catchers who, for a fee, send a withdrawal from a wallet that does not belong to them. “That way they keep the real criminal out of the picture.”
Finally, crypto companies are now required to report any transaction they deem unusual. They report this to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), a kind of intelligence service that is part of the police. He can declare the unusual transactions officially ‘suspicious’, after which they end up in the justice office. A spokesperson for the Functional Prosecutor’s Office says that it is not allowed to say anything about whether crypto reports have already been received via the FIU.
Total market cap of crypto coins is now 3 trillion dollars
The global crypto market has reached a total value of 3 trillion USD for the first time. That is almost 2600 billion euros. CoinGecko reported that the digital coin market is following suit. Recently, well-known crypto coins like bitcoin, ethereum, Binance Coin and Solana have been on the rise. Ethereum has hit a new all-time high, and Bitcoin is now worth more than $66,000, approaching the all-time high of around $67,000.
Justice took 8 million euros worth of bitcoins this year, significantly more than last year
A record amount of illegal digital money was seized by the judiciary last year; More than 8 million euros in crypto coins have been taken.