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
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

    Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure / Development Support

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunity to join a...

    Ashdown Group: SQL Developer - Oxfordshire - £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: BI Developer (Business In...

    Guru Careers: Mac Operator / Artworker

    £Negotiable (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Mac Operator / Artworker to ...

    Guru Careers: Digital Content Designer / Web Designer

    £Negotiable (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Digital Content Designer / W...

    Day In a Page

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore