The Netherlands’ Public Prosecution Service focusing on bitcoin money laundering

Regulation | January 9, 2017 By:

The Netherlands’ Public Prosecution Service is looking at three pending cases involving the digital currency bitcoin and money laundering in 2017.

The prosecution department, formally known as the Openbaar Ministerie (OM), is the body responsible for determining whether suspected criminals should be referred for prosecution.

It is currently legal to trade in bitcoin, which rose 128% in value last year to a high of €980. However, the currency, which is unregulated, is also popular with criminals, hence the public prosecutor’s crackdown.

The facts involved in these three cases offer a revealing look at the different ways that determined criminals can potentially misuse digital currencies:

  • The largest of the three cases is reportedly related to a broader international investigation of a major money-laundering organization. According to reports, that case isn’t expected to go to trial until the end of 2017.
  • The second case is focused on a smaller group of four Dutch citizens who were operating an exchange office that was allegedly laundering money by converting Bitcoins to euros.
  • The third case involves two Dutch residents who are accused of using the digital currency to launder roughly 2.4 million euros. That case is expected to be heard in early February.

According to Europol, some 40% of online transactions on the dark web, where drugs and weapons change hands, involve bitcoin.