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US DoJ seizes $28m worth of Bitcoins

17 January 2014

The US Department of Justice (USDoJ) has seized $28 million worth of Bitcoins from hidden website Silk Road.

A total number of 29,655 Bitcoins have been seized from the Silk Road server, which at the present currency exchange rate, values the Bitcoins at around $28 million (£17m). The USDoJ has also seized the Silk Road website and blocked it.

A forfeiture suit for all assets of Silk Road including its website and all of its Bitcoins, was filed on the basis that the assets were allegedly used to facilitate money laundering and constitute property involved in money laundering. 

In addition, a criminal complaint has been filed against the owner and operator of the website, Ross William Ulbricht, aka ‘Dread Pirate Roberts’ aka ‘DPR’ aka ‘Silk Road’.

Ulbricht is being charged with one count of narcotics conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking and one count of money laundering conspiracy. 

As well as the 29,655 Bitcoins seized from the Silk Road server, the US Government also seized an additional 144,336 Bitcoins worth $130 million (£79 million) that were found on Ulbricht’s computer hardware. 

According to the USDoJ, the Silk Road hidden website was designed to enable its users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: ‘These Bitcoins were forfeited not because they are Bitcoins, but because they were, as the court found, the proceeds of crimes.’

He also added that with the seizure of ‘$28 million worth of Bitcoins from the Silk Road website, a global cyber business designed to broker criminal transactions, we continue our efforts to take the profit out of crime and signal to those who would turn to the dark web for illicit activity that they have chosen the wrong path’. 

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