The Netherlands’ Public Prosecution Service is reportedly pursuing at least three individual money laundering cases related to Bitcoin, according to DutchNews.nl. The prosecution department, formally known as the Openbaar Ministerie (OM), is the body responsible for determining whether suspected criminals should be referred for prosecution.
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.
Over the last year, the European Union has turned an increasingly wary eye toward possible crimes involving digital currencies and enhanced its efforts to address potential money-laundering and terror-financing concerns. As part of that effort, roughly 200 people were taken into custody in March 2016 after a joint European investigation broke up a "money mule" laundering enterprise. 50 Dutch citizens were among those arrested in that action.
While it is legal for Dutch citizens to own and trade Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, the OM’s decision to crack down on illicit Bitcoin activities should serve as a warning shot to Dutch criminals seeking to capitalize on unregulated digital currencies.