The organization fears that the cryptocoins will eventually fall into the hands of criminals again. At the time of the seizure, the bitcoins were worth around USD 950,000.
It was reported that Finland’s Customs Agency is still thinking about what to do with several bitcoins that it seized more than 3 years ago. The organization fears that the crypto assets may eventually fall into the hands of criminals if the sale is made public.
The Finnish customs office, locally known as Tulli, has been trying to dispose of a total of 1,666 BTC since 2016. Two years after the seizure, they developed a plan to make a public auction of the cryptocoins, but then the officials suspended it. They were worried about the possibility that the sale would attract the wrong type of attention and compromise the agency’s security.
When talking to the local press, the director of Tulli, Pekka Pylkkänen, explained that the problems that might arise are related to the risk of money laundering. In his opinion, cryptocurrency buyers rarely use those assets for normal activities, thus leading many people to think that they are usually connected to criminal activities.
It should be remembered that Tulli seized the number of bitcoins after completing a raid on a darknet market in September 2016. At that time, Bitcoin was trading at about USD 570, which means that the 1,666 BTC were worth approximately USD 950,000. With current prices, slightly below USD 9,000, the bitcoins are now worth about USD 15 million. During the period of the all-time of Bitcoin in December 2017, when the value of the cryptocurrency was close to USD 20,000, that reserve would have been worth almost USD 33 million.
It is worth noting that Tulli is not the only government authority that has to decide what to do with the seized bitcoins since their value in US dollars is much higher than when they were first seized. The US government, which has seized hundreds of millions of US dollars in Bitcoin over the years, has organized multiple online auctions for these cryptocoins.
At the beginning of 2019, some bitcoins seized by the Belgian authorities were sold by an online auction house. Later that year, the British police used that same auctioneer to sell more than USD 290,000 in cryptocurrencies that they had seized from a teenage hacker.
In the year 2018, the Finnish government banned customs officials from trying to sell the bitcoins seized at exchanges or trading platforms, ordering that any cryptocurrency seized be kept in a cold storage solution. That poses a dilemma as they still do not know what to do with them.
According to Pylkkänen, most cryptocurrency holders use them for illicit purposes, but that claim is not supported by numbers. In a report by the blockchain analysis firm Elliptic published last November, it was suggested that only USD 829 million in bitcoins, equivalent to 0.5% of all transactions, were linked to the darknet.
By Alexander Salazar