While much progress has been made with cryptocurrency and its adoption globally, the industry still faces a significant proliferation of criminals. In the Netherlands, police officers have arrested another pair and charged them after suspicious money-laundering operations.
Freely Working With Criminals?
According to reports, the Dutch police arrested a local couple concerning a money-laundering operation. The couple had laundered over $19 million in the past two years, funneling their ill-gotten gains through Bitcoin.
Based in Hilversum in the northern part of the Netherlands, the couple had reportedly bought Bitcoin and traded the asset without notifying the proper financial authorities. In addition, they allegedly used the Dark Web to contact some of their trading partners, thus calling to question their activities’ legitimacy.
While they traded, they reportedly failed to get the appropriate Know-Your-Customer (KYC) and identity verification details from their customers. This is despite the fact that some of their trades were in the millions of Euros.
A raid on their home led to the seizure of 2,500 BTC, worth about $33 million. Police officers also confiscated a vehicle, jewelry, cell phones, and hard drives. The authorities also shut down the couple’s businesses, confiscating €138,000 ($161,20) and €40,000 ($46,700). The companies will have to pay additional fines of €45,000 ($52,600) each.
The Rotterdam District Court already charged the two with money laundering. If found guilty, they could face up to 30 months in jail, followed by a six-month custodial period.
While money launderers have been on the upsurge, law enforcement authorities have shown significant progress in tracking them as well.
Earlier this month, the crypto industry saw what is perhaps the most comprehensive crypto money laundering sweep in its history, as law enforcement officials arrested 33 criminals worldwide. On October 15, Europol confirmed that it had conducted an operation across 16 countries, resulting in the arrest of 20 individuals with suspected affiliations to the infamous QQAAZZ criminal network.
The criminal network’s profile has grown in the past few years, with accusations of laundering millions of euros for top cybercriminals since 2016. The organization allegedly leveraged crypto mixers, international bank accounts, and shell companies in Bulgaria and Poland to funnel its funds.
As Europol confirmed, searches occurred in over 40 homes across Spain, the United Kingdom, Latvia, Italy, and Bulgaria. Authorities also made arrests in Portugal, Poland, the United States, Australia, and more.
On the same day, New Zealand authorities arrested an Auckland resident who used crypto to launder over $2 million for criminals. The man had laundered the funds by purchasing several luxury vehicles, including a Mercedes G63 and a Lamborghini. Per the New Zealand Herald, he is now facing up to 30 charges, while six other residents were arrested in a series of raids and seizures across the country.
In the United States, the Justice Department also unsealed a superseding indictment against six individuals for their participation in a money-laundering scheme that moved money on behalf of foreign cartels.
Per the indictment, the individuals used front companies, casinos, and bank accounts to carry out their operation. One suspect also reportedly planned to bribe a Stet Department official using crypto assets, hoping to get fake passports for him and his cohorts.