After an unplanned four-year holding of nearly 2,000 bitcoins, Finland’s Customs has decided to sell them now. Local authorities seized most of them after Darknet drug-trafficking investigations in 2016, but their value has expanded by about 100x since then.
The Right Moment to Sell
Finland’s Customs is planning to sell 1,981 bitcoins, most of which authorities had seized during drug trafficking criminal investigations. According to a recent news report, most of the confiscated BTC (1,666) originate from the so-called Douppikauppa case, connected with a Darknet operator arrested in 2016.
After seizing the considerable portion of bitcoins, the question remained for the Finish authorities whether to destroy them or sell them. It seems that deciding to hold the coins for nearly five years will pay dividends.
Their value equaled less than 700,000 euros when they were confiscated in 2016. Considering Bitcoin’s recent price, the seized crypto assets’ value is somewhere above $75 million.
To Sell or Not to Sell
In 2018 customs were initially considering what to do with the collected crypto funds, planning to auction the coins. A bit later, in February 2020, there was still uncertainty, as the institution’s finance director, Pekka Pylkkanen, feared that if sold, the BTC might end up again in other illegal activities.
“From our point of view, the problems are specifically related to the risk of money laundering. The buyers rarely use them for normal endeavors,” said Pylkkanen.
Even though the risk of the digital funds being reused on the criminal market if sold is still possible, the authorities have decided now that they have no choice but to sell the assets according to the customs legislation. The main reason is that the State Audit Office had previously specified that any confiscated property should be sold.
“On behalf of the Customs Act, we had the option of handing them over to another government agency or some other party and destroying them. We came to the conclusion that alternatives other than sales are not realistic,” said Pylkkanen.
The report stated that after the eventual Bitcoin sale, Finish customs have to transfer the money to the country’s Ministry of Finance. Since Customs cannot auction bitcoins, the planned confiscation order is not yet final. The conclusive decision is currently about at least 1,889 bitcoins. The exact figure will be determined after reviewing last year’s Customs financial statements, which reportedly will be completed and announced soon.