New French Bill Could Give Authorities Powers to Seize Crypto Assets

The country joins the U.K. in seeking to ensure authorities can get their hands on crypto linked to criminal activities.

AccessTimeIconSep 9, 2022 at 11:11 a.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:23 p.m. UTC
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In France, suspected criminals could have their crypto assets frozen under a new law presented by the country's government Wednesday.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government wants to join the U.K. in handing the police greater power to freeze assets that could otherwise escape their clutches and be laundered away.

“Too often, criminals convert the fruits of their wrongdoing into crypto assets, which can be more easily dispersed and therefore concealed,” said a report annexed to the government’s draft law.

The measures, which largely repeat those first tabled in March, would extend the rules that already apply to conventional bank account holdings to crypto assets. Bank holdings in France can be seized when authorized by a public prosecutor or investigating judge

While much of the bill is dedicated to online crime such as requiring ransomware payments to be reported to the authorities, it covers a range of other issues under French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin’s purview, such as creating 200 new rural police squads and updating the handling of domestic violence cases.

The proposals will be discussed at a meeting next week by the French Senate’s constitutional law committee, which is responsible for reviewing changes to the country's criminal code.

In the U.K., the government led by Boris Johnson promised new powers to seize and recover crypto assets as part of its Economic Crime Bill in May. On Wednesday, ministers reiterated their commitment to those plans, despite the subsequent change in prime minister.

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Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.


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