- U.S. government seizes 69,370 Bitcoin (BTC) in the last two months.
- A period of 60 days has been granted to introduce claims for the BTC taken by the authorities.
- BitGo receives sanctions from the U.S. Treasury Department.
On New Year’s Eve, the US government reveal that it had seized $12.7 million or 391 Bitcoin (BTC). Analyst Kevin Rooke made the report via his Twitter account and stated that it was the largest announced seizure of Bitcoin since November when 69,370 BTCs were taken by the authorities as part of a black market operation known as “Silk Road”.
According to Rooke’s report, U.S. government authorities have seized nearly 69,814 BTCs or $2.26 billion in the last two months. The Justice Department press release states that the 391 BTCs were seized on January 11, 2019, during the execution of a federal search warrant at a residence in Ventura, California.
The Department of Justice has given a 60-day deadline to all parties who wish to make a claim for seized assets in the Central District Court of California. In addition, it raises the possibility that the funds will be released if a petition is filed that meets the following requirements:
A petition must include a description of your interest in the property supported by documentation; include any facts you believe justify the return of the property; and be signed under oath, subject to the penalty of perjury, or meet the requirements of an unsworn statement under penalty of perjury.
As reported by CNF, the operation that led to the seizure of the largest portion of the funds in Bitcoin was allegedly carried out with the cooperation of the former Silk Road operator, Ross William Ulbricht, who was sentenced in 2015 to serve a life sentence by a U.S. court. The operation was backed by the research firm Chainalysis and there is speculation that the seized funds may have a negative impact on the price of BTC if they are auctioned.
The United States crackdowns on crypto industry
In recent weeks, U.S. regulators have begun an initiative against entities in the crypto industry that are likely to have a year-round impact. In addition to the lawsuit filed against Ripple Labs by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Treasury Department has imposed sanctions against the exchange BitGo.
The exchange must pay $98,830 for alleged violations of the sanctions program imposed on individuals in Cuba, Crimea, Iran, Sudan, and Syria. The Treasury Department believes that BitGo should have made a greater effort to determine that the IP addresses of its users did not match the sanctioned countries.
Former Bitcoin developer Matt Corallo believes that the regulator’s decision is “worse than any other regulatory action” recently. Corallo believes that such measures will have a devasting effect all across the industry and added the following:
Prosecuting service providers which have no funds control but only add security via additional protections for users will kill a vital industry for cryptocurrency adoption in the US. This type of action cannot be understated, we need sanctions reform ASAP.