Crypto and INTERPOL – INTERPOL develops specialist cryptoasset team to coordinate globally against digital assets crime

19 Aug 2023, 29 mins ago

Last year, during a press conference before its 90th General Assembly, INTERPOL announced that it had formed a specialist team to help countries combat crimes involving cryptoassets. 

As we have previously written, there have been increasing reports of countries using INTERPOL to pursue individuals alleged to have been involved with criminality concerning cryptoassets.

Suitability of INTERPOL

In fact, given the decentralised and borderless nature of some cryptoasset transactions, an organisation with global reach such as INTERPOL would lend itself very well to coordinate the steps required to assist with both pursuing individuals alleged to have been involved with criminal offences involving crypto, and to tracing any associated proceeds of crime. 

Indeed, as Jurgen Stock, INTERPOL’s Secretary General noted, “Huge developments in technology, internet of everything and digitalization – because of cryptocurrency – pose a challenge to law enforcement, because, very often, they (agencies) are not properly trained and properly equipped from the beginning”. 

As always, it will be necessary to ensure that INTERPOL is always used in compliance with all its applicable rules and regulations.

International dimension of offences involving crypto

Using INTERPOL to pursue allegations involving cryptoassets is not unheard of.  Following earlier reports that South Korea had asked INTERPOL to issue a Red Notice for developer Do Kwon, who is the founder of the failed crypto currency Terra, Gherson’s criminal litigation, investigations and regulatory team wrote a blog entitled “Can INTERPOL issue a Red Notice in relation to allegations involving crypto?”. 

INTERPOL also assisted in attempting to locate Ignatova Bajatova, who was involved with the OneCoin scandal.

As well as being at risk of INTERPOL measures such as Red Notices, those who fear that allegations involving crypto have been made against them could also be at risk of extradition.

As was discussed in previous blogs entitled “Can I be extradited for allegations involving crypto?” and “Another US crypto extradition”, any allegation of criminality will inevitably involve multiple jurisdictions due to the borderless nature of crypto transactions.  As such, there may be numerous jurisdictions asserting authority and trying to extradite an alleged perpetrator to their particular jurisdiction to face justice.  Indeed, there have now been two examples of individuals being extradited to the US in relation to allegations involving crypto. 

The vast majority (if not all) of criminal allegations that underpin a crypto criminal investigation are of a financial crime by nature, e.g. fraud, money laundering and insider dealing. They can also include alleged offences relating to the breach of financial regulations.

These offences, by their very nature, can take place across multiple jurisdictions and are, therefore, types of offences for which multiple countries can assert jurisdiction, including in relation to conduct outside their own country (hence extradition can be an option). 

Indeed, due to the borderless nature of the effect of these crimes, a jurisdiction could assert jurisdiction against an individual who has not even stepped foot in that territory.

As such, jurisdictions might additionally utilise INTERPOL to locate an individual and seek their arrest prior to issuing any extradition request.

Due to the nature of this technology, and as this technology becomes more prevalent, there will surely be a large increase in the instances of INTERPOL being used to locate individuals accused of having committed offences involving crypto.

International crypto dimension – criminal investigations, litigation and extradition

Those who fear that they may be subject to an extradition request from the UK, or who are just concerned about liability across multiple jurisdictions, including the UK, should get in touch.

Gherson’s criminal litigation, regulatory and investigatory team combine an expert knowledge of criminal and regulatory law underpinned with a firm understanding of digital assets and blockchain technology.  As such, the team is able to provide expert strategic advice to anyone facing investigation in relation to any allegation of criminality involving cryptoassets. Working alongside the extradition team, Gherson’s criminal litigation, investigations and regulatory team is able to provide an unparalleled service in any case with an international dimension.  The team is also able to call upon lawyers in multiple other jurisdictions and build multi-jurisdictional teams to assist with any suitable defence.

INTERPOL, Red Notices and crypto

In addition, those who fear that a jurisdiction may have requested INTERPOL to process data relating to them in connection with any allegations of offences involving crypto, or are just concerned about potential liability, should get in contact.

Indeed, Gherson Solicitors continue to receive requests for expert advice and assistance from those who fear they may have outstanding financial issues arising. That advice tackles:   

  1. Best ways of approaching a possible INTERPOL red notice;
  2. Preparing for potential criminal proceedings / an extradition request;
  3. Preparing for a situation where a civil matter or commercial dispute could be used to initiate bogus criminal proceedings; and
  4. Exploring the possibility of instigating civil litigation proceedings to recover any misappropriated assets.

Gherson have previously written a series of blogs designed to assist those who fear they may be subject to INTERPOL measures (including a Red Notice):

INTERPOL and Red Notice Challenges

How to Remove an INTERPOL Red Notice

INTERPOL Red Notices and Extradition

How do I know if I am subject to an INTERPOL Red Notice

Regulation and compliance

In these constantly changing times, firms that deal with cryptoassets, and additionally have exposure to firms that do, will need to carefully consider all their systems and controls to ensure that they are able to comply with all relevant AML and sanctions regulations

How Gherson can assist

Gherson’s white-collar crime and regulatory team are able to provide advice and assistance with AML and sanctions compliance, including in situations involving cryptoassets

Additionally, the team has recently started a series on the regulation of crypto, with the aim of advising those who work in the compliance of this sector.  In addition, for those who would like advice on relevant issues, including those who have had issues with the FCA registration process, our specialist regulatory and compliance team can guide individuals and companies through the process.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to stay up-to-date.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2023