Ministers plan Bitcoin crackdown amid money laundering fears

Posted On: 
4th December 2017

The Government has vowed to launch a regulatory crackdown on virtual currency Bitcoin amid fears it is being used to facilitate crime.

A Bitcoin ATM
PA Images

Trading exchanges for so-called crypto-currencies could be forced to disclose the identities of their users and report suspicious activity, under Treasury plans to bring in new rules that will be applied across the EU.

Bitcoin traders have so far been able to remain anonymous - a key attraction of the digital currency - but fears have been growing about its use to dodge tax and launder money.

Osborne mulls Bitcoin role

A Treasury spokesman told the Daily Telegraph last night: "We intend to update regulation to bring virtual currency exchange platforms into Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regulation.”

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay said the new rules could come in before the end of the year.

He said in a written parliamentary answer: “The UK government is currently negotiating amendments [to the anti-money-laundering directive] that will bring virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers into Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regulation, which will result in these firms’ activities being overseen by national competent authorities for these areas.

“We expect these negotiations to conclude at EU level in late 2017/early 2018.”

There are thought to be some 3 million Bitcoin users worldwide. The currency has been rising sharply in value in recent months and is currently worth £145bn overall.