While speaking at a security conference in the Netherlands, Europol, the head of the European Union policy agency, told the assembled group that law enforcement officials need the power to be able to track and expose those who are committing financial fraud with virtual currencies. Rob Wainwright, the head of Europol, said that as the world moves into this new, unknown world of conducting business online, laws must be able to keep up with technology that is constantly evolving and improving.
In his talk, Wainwright spoke about how both financial and law enforcement agencies around the world have warned about the possible threats posed by financial currencies and how they can lead to different abuses of the system. The encryption programs used by these currencies can safely process transactions but are very difficult for authorities to trace or keep track of. This opens up the possibility for illegal dealings, such as being able to fund a terrorist group from half a world away, simply through the computer.
"We're seeing that virtual currencies are being used as an instrument to facilitate crime, particularly in regard to the laundering of illicit profits," Wainwright told the collected members of The Hague.
While some governments have been able to target money laundering fronts — such as the U.S. shutting down underground marketplace Silk Road last year — Wainwright says that police still need to expanded powers to be able to identify those who participate in these online currency places anonymously and be able to bring them to proper justice. Wainwright argued that there are people who are abusing the "dark areas of the internet" because they know there is no legal apparatus currently in place that poses any serious threat.