$2.1bn worth of bitcoin seized by German police

30 Jan 2024

Image: © promesaartstudio/Stock.adobe.com

The bitcoin was seized after one of the accused in the investigation voluntarily transferred them to official wallets provided by German police.

In what has been deemed the “most extensive” seizure of bitcoin the country has ever seen, German police have provisionally secured 50,000 in bitcoin, which is currently worth approximately $2.1bn.

The seizure is part of an investigation into suspected unauthorised commercial exploitation of copyrighted works and subsequent money laundering.

The investigation was carried out by the Dresden General Prosecutor’s Office, the Saxony State Criminal Police Office and the tax investigation of the Leipzig II Tax Office as the Saxony Integrated Investigation Unit (INES).

The operation was also supported by was supported the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the FBI and a forensic IT expert company based in Munich.

According to a police statement, the bitcoin was secured in mid-January of this year after one of the accused in the investigation voluntarily transferred them to official wallets provided by the BKA. A final decision yet to be made about the utilisation of the bitcoin.

In a statement obtained by DPA International, Patrick Pintaske, spokesperson for the public prosecutor’s office in Dresden, said no charges have yet been brought against the men. “If an indictment is brought, the investigation will be closed,” he said.

An uncertain industry

Cryptocurrency has become the centre of many criminal investigations in recent years, many of which span across multiple countries.

In March 2023, a major darknet crypto laundromat was taken down in a joint US-German investigation, which led to the seizure of millions of euro worth of bitcoin. And on the last day of 2023, South Korea’s Orbit Chain suffered a major breach, resulting in more than $80m worth of cryptocurrency being stolen.

But while the crypto sphere has been called the ‘wild west’ by many, there have been solid moves towards regulating the industry.

Last year, EU lawmakers approved a landmark piece of legislation for governing and safeguarding the crypto industry. The legislation, known as MiCA, creates a set of common rules around the supervision of crypto assets and cryptocurrencies.

And just earlier this month, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) authorised 11 applications to offer exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tied to bitcoin in what has been described as a “landmark moment” for the crypto industry.

Find out how emerging tech trends are transforming tomorrow with our new podcast, Future Human: The Series. Listen now on Spotify, on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

Jenny Darmody is the editor of Silicon Republic