US Government Holds $5 Billion in Bitcoin From Cybercrime Seizures By | #cybercrime | #infosec  |  Editor Venkatesh Jartarkar

Published Oct 16, 2023 11:52AM ET

The U.S. government’s Bitcoin reserves, currently estimated at $5 billion, have been primarily amassed through seizures from cybercriminals and darknet marketplaces. The holdings are securely stored offline in encrypted hardware wallets managed by agencies such as the Justice Department, IRS, and FBI. The accumulated Bitcoins total to approximately 200,000, according to the IRS’s Jarod Koopman on Monday.

The large-scale accumulation of Bitcoin is a result of legal protocols tied to asset seizures rather than any strategic planning. This process has been ongoing since 2013, with the Justice Department refining secure storage practices, highlighted by cases like that of Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht.

The government’s three major seizures include 69,369 BTC from Silk Road, 94,643 BTC related to the Bitfinex hack, and 50,676 BTC from James Zhong. These figures surpass its reported Bitcoin holdings, suggesting potential further growth due to ongoing seizures.

Despite some liquidation efforts, the U.S.’s Bitcoin holdings remain over $5 billion. The liquidation strategy has evolved over time. Initially, it involved direct auctions with bidders such as Tim Draper in 2014. Since January 2021, however, the U.S. Marshals Service has shifted to phased dispersion via crypto exchanges like Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN).

This method helps mitigate market impact and ensures cryptocurrency market stability while complying with legal standards until asset forfeiture completion. The proceeds from these sales typically support criminal investigations or victim restitution. The U.S. Marshals adhere to prompt, fair-market-value sales, a practice similar to Hong Kong’s OSL Exchange which is contemplating a $128 million sale.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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National Cyber Security