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German Police Seize $2.17 Billion in Bitcoin

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German authorities have confiscated 50,000 Bitcoins with a market value of about $2.17 billion, which is the country’s “most extensive” crypto seizure. The cryptocurrencies were linked to a German piracy website.

“This is the most extensive seizure of bitcoins by law enforcement authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany to date,” the German police noted in a statement (translated from German) yesterday (Tuesday).

The seizure was part of the joint investigation conducted by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, and a Munich-based forensic IT expert company.

The massive amount of Bitcoin was voluntarily transferred by one of the suspects, who ran a German piracy website until 2013, to the official crypto wallet controlled by the BKA. The suspect obtained the Bitcoins by converting the proceeds of the piracy operations into cryptocurrencies.

The German police are investigating the commercial money laundering aspect by the two suspects of the piracy website, allegedly the country’s most successful illegal video-sharing website, that violated the local Copyright Act. However, law enforcement did not press any charges against the two yet.

“A final decision has not yet been made about the utilization of the Bitcoins,” the police statement added.

Operator of a Popular Pirate Website

The man, identified as a 40-year-old German citizen who transferred the Bitcoins, was arrested by the German police in 2019 and held in custody for months. He was later released, as according to the police, he did not possess any flight risk.

He already confessed his role in the operations of the illegal website, which allowed users to download about 880,000 copies of movies illegally, and is cooperating with the investigation. Between 2008 and 2013, the pirate website hosted tens of thousands of movies and was among Germany’s top 25 most visited websites.

Although a first in Germany, massive amounts of Bitcoin seizures are not uncommon. The US authorities made two billion-dollar crypto seizures in the last couple of years: one of about $3.6 billion worth of crypto linked to the hack of crypto exchange Bitfinex in 2016, and the other amounted to $3.4 billion in crypto related to the notorious dark web marketplace, SilkRoad.

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