Czech police have seized a luxury property purchased with bitcoin by a couple previously linked to the hack of drug bazaar Sheep Marketplace.
The house, reportedly worth around $345,000, was bought in a series of transactions by Tomáš Jiřikovský and his partner Eva Bartošová. The property was originally registered under Jiřikovský’s grandfather, Jan Goliath.
Sheep Marketplace shut down in December 2013, following claims hackers had absconded with approximately $5.3m in bitcoin. Users who tracked the stolen funds on the blockchain voiced suspicions that the theft was an inside job. A site named Sheep Market Scam alleging that a further 40,000 BTC was moved to an address previously associated with the site.
According to reports, The Ministry of Finance’s Financial Analytical Unit (FAU) flagged a payment of approximately $35,000 from bitcoin exchange Bitstamp to Bartošová, who was unable to account for the origin of the funds. Further payments to a lawyer and a realtor were also reportedly tracked.
A loosely translated report published by FAU, noted payments to Bitstamp Ltd, which it refers to as ‘BL’:
“During the inspection of a bank we caught an international payment on behalf of a newly opened bank account under the name of ‘EB’, which was sent by a certain company ‘BL’, that runs a virtual currency exchange in the European Union. During the investigation we found that the payment was intended for person ‘TJ’, a partner of ‘EB’.”
The report continued: “We found that the name ‘TJ’ is mentioned in the context of theft of digital currency from the market ‘SM’. In the investigation we detected more payments in hundreds of thousands and millions of Czech crowns that went to the accounts of ‘EB’ and ‘TJ’, from the company ‘BL’, to buy a property and other things.”
The FAU confirmed that a complaint for suspected money laundering had been filed according to section 216 of the criminal code. CoinDesk has contacted the FAU to determine whether any arrests have been made.
Denial of involvement
Allegations of Jiřikovský’s and Bartošová’s involvement with Sheep Marketplace first surfaced in 2013, with Redditor ‘throwme1121’ claiming that the perpetrators were Czech back in November 2013.
At the time, the couple released a statement denying any involvement with the illicit marketplace. “We are web hosting a fan page for the sheepmarketplace.com domain, but no the real marketplace,” read the translated statement.
Karel Kyovsky, owner of General Bytes, a Prague-based bitcoin ATM manufacturer, said the recent media coverage was likely to have a negative impact on the average Czech reader. “Those who do not know much about bitcoin will think that it serves as a tool for criminals,” he said, adding:
“As a bitcoin believer, I know that bitcoin is not a tool for criminals. It is a technology that will change our lives in the next 10 years, like the internet did.”
Kyovsky agreed with Alena Vranova, director of the Czech startup behind the Trezor bitcoin vault, Satoshi Labs, that educating people to handle their bitcoin securely is of great importance to safeguard against future theft.
Image via Shutterstock.