UK Surrey Police is reported to have completed its own Bitcoin transaction earlier this year after trading the proceeds of confiscated 296 BTCs, according to Forbes.
The sale, reportedly the first by a local police force in the UK, took place after Latvian Seregjs Teresko was arrested and deported for money laundering. Teresko has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
At the time of sale, the bitcoins were worth around $1.5 million, which certainly was bad timing for Surrey Police as two months later the price of Bitcoin rocketed from $5,000 to around $20,000.
On Thursday a local court ruled that the sale was legal, and Surrey Police was entitled to keep 18.8% of the confiscated funds and use it towards its operational fund; a budget bonus for the local police of some £273,000 (approx. $385,000) A spokesperson explained:
“Our responsibility was to ask the courts for permission to act, within the existing legal frameworks, and once given that permission, to take action…We wouldn’t speculate by holding onto any asset or property (whether bitcoin, jewellery, vehicle or otherwise) that was seized under Proceeds of Crime Act in the hope of it changing in value.”
“The police wouldn’t hodl, ” the spokesperson added, happy to use crypto terminology
The investigators made a significant haul when they raided the home of the Latvian, recovering jewelry, including gold bars, a BMW, and a Range Rover. The jewelry was valued at £50,000 ($65,000)
The police accessed the Bitcoin funds at the time by using Seregjs’s private key and setting up their own wallet and then selling it on an overseas cryptocurrency exchange.
In 2017, proposals for easy-seizure of illegally obtained bitcoin were recommended by UK law enforcement group N8 researchers, along with suggestions that the police also needed to extend their knowledge of cryptocurrency in order to fight money laundering.
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