US authorities stuck with $25m bitcoin hoard, seized from the Silk Road

The stash was taken from the servers of the Silk Road - a website for selling illegal wares that traded in bitcoin and was shut down last October

Federal attorneys in the US have been run into difficulty after signing a forfeiture order for bitcoins worth more than £15 million ($25m) seized the servers of the closed Silk Road website.

Following the signing of the order the US authorities are now free to dispose of the 29,655 bitcoins in any way they please but are faced by a lack of legal options.

There is no legally-certified exchange for bitcoins in the US at and Mt Gox, perhaps the best-known global exchange, has already faced legal trouble in America for operating without a licence.  

A spokesperson for the Manhattan US Attorney Office said that they have “not yet determined exactly how the bitcoins will be converted and liquidated,” although it’s thought that the currency could be auctioned off, as is standard for getting rid of assets seized from criminals.

In this case all proceeds would go towards the US Treasury and with this in mind it might be sensible for the authorities to sit on their trove for a bit longer. Thanks to rocketing exchange rates the bitcoins are now worth four times their value when they were seized.

Read more: The end of the Silk Road - the FBI sting that caught the world’s biggest online drug dealer

Oddly, the bitcoins taken from the servers of the Silk Road are not the US government’s largest problem. A far bigger stash of 144,000 coins was found on the personal hardware of Ross Ublricht, the man charged with masterminding the Silk Road.

At today’s exchange rate these coins are worth just under $120 million, making the FBI the holder of the world’s largest bitcoin wallet – the standard ‘account’ for the cryptocurrency.

However, reports from tech site Wired suggest that although this stash is bigger than that belonging to prominent investors such as the Winklevoss twins, this still wouldn’t make the agency the world’s largest holder of bitcoins outright.

This honour is thought to belong to the currency’s clandestine inventor, an individual known as Satoshi Nakamato who is thought to have mined more than one million bitcoins in the currency’s early days, spreading out this wealth among several wallets to protect against theft.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst - Tunbridge Wells - £30,000

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Test Analyst/Systems Administ...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - .NET, C#

    £40000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Global Real Estate Software P...

    Recruitment Genius: Drupal / PHP Developer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity for a talented...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer

    £17000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to continuing growth, recru...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us