Europol Director Says, Expand Fight Against Digital Currency Crime

Published: 26 March 2014


The director of Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, has urged legislators to expand police powers as a way to combat online money laundering.

Speaking at the 2014 Nuclear Security Conference in the Netherlands on Monday, Rob Wainwright said, "We're seeing that virtual currencies are being used as an instrument to facilitate crime, particularly in regard to the laundering of illicit profits,” reports Reuters.


Virtual currencies like Bitcoin may not be regulated by a government body or tied to physical assets. Instead they are shared digitally using peer-to-peer technology, and that makes them vulnerable to cybercrime.

In January, the CEO of a Bitcoin exchange company was charged with conspiring to money launder more than US $1 million worth of the digital currency, and funnel it to users of the black market website, the Silk Road. 

According to Reuters, Wainwright said that police should be given powers that would allow them to better identify and prosecute anonymous cyber criminals.

"Criminals are abusing those freedoms and damaging society and threatening the security of millions," he said.

Although Europol officers do not have the direct power to arrest, they work with and support EU law enforcement to track down and prosecute potential offenders.

CoinDesk, a news site reporting on digital currency, said that legislators are increasing pushing for better regulation of virtual currencies.

The site said,  “Although the risk of digital currencies being used for money laundering and crime is often overstated, many can agree that when it comes to organized criminal syndicates, the threat of abuse is real.”