Police need powers to tackle virtual money laundering: Europol

THE HAGUE Mon Mar 24, 2014 2:25pm EDT

One of Bitcoin enthusiast Mike Caldwell's coins in this photo illustration at his office in Sandy, Utah, September 17, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

One of Bitcoin enthusiast Mike Caldwell's coins in this photo illustration at his office in Sandy, Utah, September 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Urquhart

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THE HAGUE (Reuters) - The head of the European Union's policing agency warned on Monday that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin were being used for money laundering and called for police to be given more powers to identify criminal suspects operating on the Internet.

Financial and law enforcement authorities have previously warned of the security risk posed by virtual currencies, which use encryption systems to reliably process transactions while being difficult for authorities to trace.

"We're seeing that virtual currencies are being used as an instrument to facilitate crime, particularly in regard to the laundering of illicit profits," said Europol head Rob Wainwright, speaking on the margins of a nuclear security conference in The Hague.

U.S. authorities last year moved to shut down Silk Road, an underground marketplace which allowed participants to settle their accounts anonymously using Bitcoin. Ross Ulbricht, its alleged founder, also faces money laundering charges. His trial is due to start in November.

Wainwright said police should be given new powers to allow them to identify anonymous participants online and bring them to justice.

Europol has no policing powers of its own, but acts to coordinate policing and cross-border investigations between the 28 member countries of the European Union.

Wainwright said police do not have sufficient capabilities to operate online and identify anonymous groups that are using dark areas of the internet. "Criminals are abusing those freedoms and damaging society and threatening the security of millions," he said.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Geert De Clercq and David Holmes)

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Comments (2)
This article forgets to mention that silkroad was a “drug” marketplace. You can’t snort coke with bitcoin! Guess what people! Fiat money is used to buy drugs also! Do your research about bitcoin before making a judgement. I just donated money to the wounded warrior project via Godaddy using bitcoin and it took me less than a minute!

Mar 24, 2014 2:38pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Overcast451 wrote:
uh huh….

Mar 24, 2014 2:41pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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