Finnish customs authorities have announced that they recently sold confiscated Bitcoin worth €46.5 million ($47.35 million).
According to a press release issued today, the 1,889.1 in Bitcoin was confiscated mostly in raids before 2018. The haul was seized during narcotics busts and transferred into state control via court rulings, but appears to have been subject to long deliberations over what to do with it.
In July 2021, Finnish customs agency Tulli launched a tender for brokers who wanted to sell the seized crypto on the state’s behalf.
Bitcoin hit the peak of its 2021 bull run shortly after and set a new all-time high watermark of $68,790 on November 10. At this price, the Finnish state’s Bitcoin stash could have brought in almost $130 million.
However, the tender wasn’t resolved until April this year, when two companies were chosen to carry out the sale.
Tulli also says it has other seized cryptocurrencies in its possession, but these amount to “some hundreds of thousands of euros at most.” A further 90 Bitcoin (worth around $2 million) remains in the agency’s possession, awaiting court rulings.
In April this year, Finnish Finance Minister Annika Saarikko tweeted that the country will donate “tens of millions” of euros earned through the sale of confiscated Bitcoin to Ukraine, following Russia’s invasion of the country.
Hallitus lahjoittaa @SuomenTulli takavarikoimien bitcoinien myynnin tuloutuksen ansiosta kymmeniä miljoonia Ukrainan auttamiseen. Historiallinen, yhteistyössä tehty päätös @VMuutiset& @Ulkoministerio.Ratkaisu oikeudentuntoinen ja hyvä.Kohdennus lisätalousarviossa lähiviikkoina.
— Annika Saarikko (@AnnikaSaarikko) April 27, 2022
A spokesperson for the customs agency told Decrypt that, “As far as Finnish Customs is aware the sales revenue in total is going to be donated to Ukraine and the donation has already been approved by the Finnish Parliament within the second supplementary budget this summer.”
Seized Bitcoin sales
Finland isn’t the only country to have sold off Bitcoin seized from criminals. Across the Atlantic, the U.S. Marshals service says it has sold 187,381 in seized Bitcoin over nine auctions since 2014, but declined to state the profits in dollar terms. NBC estimates it would have taken $179 million from these sales.
In March 2021, French authorities auctioned off 611 Bitcoin, then worth $34.5 million, seized during the investigation of the 2019 GateHub hack. Curiously, during the auction, one optimistic buyer paid over $26,000 for a lot of 0.11 BTC, a rate of $290,000 per BTC.
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