Finnish Customs Sitting on $14 Million Bitcoin (BTC) Stash
Finland’s Customs, locally known as Tulli, is considering auctioning some 1,666 bitcoins (BTC) worth approximately $14 million seized during a successful drug bust back in 2016.
Authorities Concerned About Selling Bitcoin To Criminals
According to local news outlet Yle, Finland’s Customs agency is considering auctioning some 1,666 BTC seized from criminals and illegal drug operations. The crypto funds currently held by the agency is reportedly worth an estimated $14 million at today’s price.
After confiscating the BTC back in 2016 during a string of successful arrests and drug busts, authorities have been looking for appropriate methods to offload the crypto. In September 2018, the agency reportedly planned to sell the seized BTC in a public auction.
However, Customs officials in the country are concerned that potential buyers could include individuals with ties to criminal organizations. Speaking on the issue, Director of the agency, Pekka Pylkkanen said:
“From our point of view, the problems are specifically related to the risk of money laundering. The buyers of [cybercurrency] rarely use them for normal endeavors.”
Despite the reservations expressed by the agency, some experts and industry stakeholders have pointed out that the Finnish crypto space has grown since the time of the arrests.
Henry Brade, the founder of Prasos, a Finnish blockchain startup pointed out that most buyers of cryptos in the country are legitimate investors looking to engage in legal transactions. Brade also said that the crypto economy has experienced a boost in liquidity and that there are a plethora of legal channels to facilitate the sale of BTC and other digital currencies.
Furthermore, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of Economic Research, Juri Mattila noted the utilization of BTC for illegal purposes has significantly declined over the past few years. Mattila remarked:
“Nowadays there are other virtual currencies that are more difficult to track [by authorities] than bitcoin which may now be used in criminal activities.”
The researcher also suggested that the agency should auction off the seized BTC in small batches to avoid mass purchases by any one individual or organization.
Law Enforcement Agencies Cracking Down on Crypto Crime
Authorities around the globe continue to keep a close watch on cryptocurrencies and its potential use for illegal purposes. Law enforcement agencies are also learning to turn confiscated funds in crypto funds into revenue and facilitate the regulated sales of these seized funds back into the crypto-economy for investors.
As previously reported by BTCManager earlier in February 2020, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) auctioned off some 4,000 BTC worth $37.4 million. The crypto funds were reportedly seized during several criminal and civil proceedings.
Back in February 2019, Wilson Auctions, a leader in the sale landscape in Ireland and Britain announced the sale of some 315 BTC seized by Belgian police authorities from local drug traffickers.