There have been numerous allegations regarding Bitcoin and illegal activity. There is very little evidence to back up such claims, for the time being. A new report by Europol does show criminals in Europe are flocking to cryptocurrencies. With $5.5bn of illegal cash to be laundered, it is evident things are unfolding in a rather worrisome direction. Given the low liquidity of cryptocurrencies, it is evident laundering such an amount will not be easy.
Cybercriminals have taken a strong liking to cryptocurrency. Especially Bitcoin is of interest, even though it lacks transparency and anonymity. In a way, it is not suited for criminal activity in the slightest. That doesn’t deter criminals from experimenting with this type of technology, though. In fact, it seems European criminals are looking closely at Bitcoin to launder money. It is expected there is $5,5bn in money waiting to be laundered through various cryptocurrencies.
Europol Keeps Close Tabs on Cryptocurrency
This is the finding of a new report issued by Europol. Although this represents just 4% of all criminal proceeds, it is a worrisome trend. In fact, Europol director Rob Wainwright is confident this percentage will only increase in the future. There is a vast amount of illicit money in Europe. Most of this money is the result of criminal proceeds. It is evident things are not looking good for the cryptocurrency industry in Europe in this regard.
Without the lack of proper regulation for Bitcoin and altcoins, monitoring these transactions proves to be nearly impossible Even so, the blockchain is completely public and transactions can be monitored in real-time. Moreover, there is a range of blockchain analysis companies who can help in this regard. Any transaction identified as criminal activity can’t even be frozen either. Such transactions are not controlled by centralizing authorities, which is an issue for agencies like Europol.
For now, it remains to be seen how this situation evolves. More specifically, laundering this amount of money will not be easy. Especially not where cryptocurrencies are involved due to illiquid markets. Cryptocurrency exchanges may need to intervene to identify potentially suspicious transactions. Europol seems to be thinking along the same lines in this regard. Whether or not anything will come of it, remains to be seen.
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock