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New EU laws to target gangs like the Kinahan cartel using cryptocurrencies to hide assets

A US-based group of security experts had claimed the Irish Mafia leaders were likely to try and convert their assets into cryptocurrency to avoid law enforcement detection

Daniel Kinahan

US ambassador Claire Cronin with former Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll announcing a $5m reward for key information leading to the dismantling of the Kinahan crime gang in April. Photo: Frank McGrath

Christy Kinahan

Sunday World

Cryptocurrencies used by gangs such as the Kinahan Cartel can provide the key to unlocking organised crime and money laundering networks, a major conference hosted by Europol has heard.

Thousands of crypto specialists and financial investigators from law enforcement gathered for the a two-day event in The Hague hosted by the EU’s police force.

Speakers at the 6th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies told how as it expands into practically every country, committing new forms of crime and launder dirty money.

It has been reported that the Kinahan Cartel have converted some of their assets to cryptocurrencies in a bid to avoid being traced by law officials.

A Europol spokesman said new laws, due to come into force, will target crime gangs using cryptocurrencies to hide assets.

"Professional money launderers are taking advantage of the ever-growing options provided by crypto assets – from mining to decentralised services – to launder proceeds from both physical and cyber crimes.

“But law enforcement, regulators and the private sector are working hard to stay ahead of those who abuse crypto assets to commit crimes and launder money.

“Legislation is tightening. New EU regulations, for example, will ensure that crypto assets are treated like any other assets for the purposes of anti-money laundering regulation and supervision.”

In June we revealed how one leading US counterterrorism group has claimed the Kinahan Cartel was likely to start using cryptocurrency to move their illicit profits out of Dubai.

And a US-based group of security experts claimed the Irish Mafia leaders were likely to try and convert their assets into cryptocurrency to avoid law enforcement detection.

Christy Kinahan

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) also warn that sanctions alone are unlikely to stop the Kinahan cartel - and that the US will need to extradite the group's leaders to bring an end to the mob's activities.

They write: "[The] sanctions will very unlikely disrupt the KOCG’s criminal operations or impact its ability to generate funds due to its global illicit activities.

"The KOCG very likely takes advantage of weak anti-money laundering controls in the UAE to conceal the origins of its illicit finances, likely generating further funds for its criminal empire.

"Without extradition from the UAE, it is very unlikely law enforcement will be capable of stopping Christopher Kinahan Senior or his sons from conducting their international operations."

In April, the US government had placed sanctions on the leaders of the Kinahan Organised Crime Group (KOCG) who had been openly operating for years in the Gulf State.

After the sanctions were announced, Dubai officials also froze the cartel leader's bank accounts.

The Sunday World has previously revealed how Christy Snr and his two sons, Daniel and Christopher Jnr, were said to be scrambling to get their assets out of the Emirate State

US ambassador Claire Cronin with former Assistant Garda Commissioner John O'Driscoll announcing a $5m reward for key information leading to the dismantling of the Kinahan crime gang in April. Photo: Frank McGrath

And a US-based group of security experts claimed the Irish Mafia leaders were likely to try and convert their assets into cryptocurrency to avoid law enforcement detection.

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) also warn that sanctions alone are unlikely to stop the Kinahan cartel - and that the US will need to extradite the group's leaders to bring an end to the mob's activities.

They write: "[The] sanctions will very unlikely disrupt the KOCG’s criminal operations or impact its ability to generate funds due to its global illicit activities.

"The KOCG very likely takes advantage of weak anti-money laundering controls in the UAE to conceal the origins of its illicit finances, likely generating further funds for its criminal empire.

"Without extradition from the UAE, it is very unlikely law enforcement will be capable of stopping Christopher Kinahan Senior or his sons from conducting their international operations."

The Counterterrorism Group describe themselves as a global organisation "focused on detecting, deterring, and defeating terrorism and other threats".

They also claim increased collaboration between international authorities will have encouraged the gang to use cryptocurrency.

“Law enforcement will almost certainly be unable to detect illicit financial flows through the cryptocurrency market due to cryptocurrency’s decentralised nature,” the report reads.

In the report from the group’s Illicit Finance and Economic Threats team, the group also noted that it is unlikely authorities in Dubai will be able to stop the gang from conducting their transnational criminal organisation.

In the Hague the conference heard how professional money launderers are taking advantage of the ever-growing options provided by crypto assets – from mining to decentralised services – to launder proceeds from both physical and cyber crimes.

But law enforcement, regulators and the private sector are working hard to stay ahead of those who abuse crypto assets to commit crimes and launder money.

Legislation is tightening with new EU regulations set to ensure that crypto assets are treated like any other assets for the purposes of anti-money laundering regulation and supervision.


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