By Dan Byrne for AMLi
A CONVICTED married couple has seen over €25 million of their fraudulent crypto-assets seized by authorities in The Netherlands in a ‘deep-web’ money laundering case.
The funds were largely held in two separate bitcoin wallets – one containing 1,488 BTC and the other 1,044 BTC.
These assets were confiscated as the Rotterdam District Court handed down a two-year prison sentence to both individuals, the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The court heard that the couple had laundered over €16 million over a two-and-a-half-year period, through transactions which were kept secret from tax authorities.
Based in the city of Hilversum near Amsterdam, the couple are understood to have solicited customers through untraceable means, with prosecutors noting that much of the related bitcoin transfers “bore traces of the dark-web.”
‘Dark-web’ refers to Internet channels accessible only with special software to ensure anonymity, and little chance of being tracked.
Once they had contacted customers, the couple would meet them in public places to conduct the actual transactions. Fast food restaurants were the most common setting.
No identity papers or other forms of proper ID due diligence were requested by the traders during these meetings.
These requirements are deemed legally essential to KYC protocols attached to cryptocurrency transactions – particularly ones of this magnitude.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are frequently seen as channels through which criminals find it easier to launder money, due in part to lack of stringent regulations or government oversight. Debate continues in Europe over how this can be remedied.
Meanwhile, the couple’s registered crypto trading businesses were also hit as part of the convictions.
Each was handed down a €45,000 fine, while authorities seized cash assets valued at over €172,000.
Six months of both individuals’ prison sentences are suspended, the Prosecutor’s Office said.
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