As published on nltimes.nl, Monday 8 November, 2021.
Over the past months, the Public Prosecution Service (OM), the National Criminal Investigation Service, and the Tax Authority's financial investigation service FIOD seized over 25 million euros in cryptocurrencies in a money laundering investigation. The services seized digital wallets containing Bitcoin and Ethereum from dozens of suspects.
Because possession and use of cryptocurrency can be anonymous, not all of the suspects have been identified. They come from both the Netherlands and abroad. No arrests have been made yet. The Dutch authorities asked their foreign counterparts to transfer the suspects to the Netherlands as soon as they are identified.
The investigation and confiscations were carried out in collaboration with various crypto exchanges in the Netherlands and abroad. Dutch law obliges the exchanges to cooperate.
Due to the anonymous nature of cryptocurrencies, they are popular as payment for various types of crime. Because of the ongoing investigation, a spokeswoman for the OM did not want to specify what the suspects used the money for. As an example, the OM mentioned that digital money is used for drug and human trafficking, fraud, and tax evasion, among other things. The value of the wallets that were seized will eventually end up in the state treasury.
This is the largest amount ever seized. Last year a total of 8 million euros worth of cryptocurrencies were confiscated. In 2019, the total came to 1 million euros. Cryptocurrencies were first seized in the Netherlands in 2013. Since then, the investigative services have gotten better and better, according to the OM. The services use the traces left behind to collect evidence, identify suspects, and trace their assets for seizure.