The U.S. is suing for the forfeiture of thousands of bitcoins, totaling more than $1 billion, that it recently seized, the Department of Justice said Thursday.
- The seizure on Tuesday, tied to early darknet market Silk Road, is the largest the U.S. has ever conducted, the DOJ said.
- Court documents reveal the seized funds include over 69,370 bitcoin and nearly equivalent amounts of forked cryptos bitcoin cash (BCH), bitcoin gold (BTG) and bitcoin satoshi vision (BSV).
- Prosecutors say an unnamed hacker stole the trove from Silk Road and moved them to a wallet where they sat from April 2013 until the Tuesday seizure.
- The individual consented to the government seizure on Tuesday.
- The news comes days after blockchain intelligence firm Elliptic reported that a wallet possibly belonging to the Silk Road marketplace moved almost $1 billion worth of bitcoin earlier this week.
- This was the first transaction from the address since 2015, when it transferred 101 BTC to BTC-e – a now-shuttered cryptocurrency exchange allegedly favored by money launderers, Elliptic said. BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik has been in custody in Europe since 2017.
- Earlier this week, Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson speculated the coins may have been moved by imprisoned Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht or a Silk Road vendor.
- Ulbricht – who operated under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts – operated the darknet website from 2011 until his arrest in 2013 and is currently serving a life sentence.
Since the coins have sat dormant in the wallet for years, unavailable for trading, their confiscation appears unlikely to have played any role in the recent run-up in bitcoin’s price. On the contrary, if the government were to auction them as it typically does, the coins could rejoin the circulating supply.
This is a developing story; refresh for updates.
Read the court filings below: