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Approximately 29,655 Bitcoins, worth approximately $28 million, that had been seized from the Silk Road server have been forfeited to the U.S. government in what federal prosecutors called the largest ever forfeiture of Bitcoins.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that the Bitcoins, and the Silk Road hidden website, were forfeited after having been seized in connection with the civil forfeiture action previously filed in Manhattan federal court seeking the forfeiture of all assets of Silk Road, including its website and all of its Bitcoins because those assets allegedly were used to facilitate money laundering and constitute property involved in money laundering. In addition to the civil action, a criminal complaint against Ross William Ulbricht, a/k/a “Dread Pirate Roberts,” a/k/a “DPR,” a/k/a “Silk Road,” the alleged owner and operator of the Silk Road hidden website, had been filed in Manhattan federal court charging him with one count of narcotics conspiracy, one of count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. The forfeiture order was signed by U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken.
Bharara said that with the forfeiture “of $28 million worth of Bitcoins from the Silk Road website, a global cyber business designed to broker criminal transactions, we continue our efforts to take the profit out of crime and signal to those who would turn to the dark web for illicit activity that they have chosen the wrong path. These Bitcoins were forfeited not because they are Bitcoins, but because they were, as the court found, the proceeds of crimes.”
Prosecutors said that the Silk Road hidden website was designed to enable its users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services anonymously and beyond the reach of law enforcement. In connection with the civil forfeiture action, and in addition to the Bitcoins that were forfeited, the government seized an additional 144,336 Bitcoins (which, at today’s Bitcoin exchange rate, are worth over $130 million) that were found on computer hardware belonging to Ulbricht. Ulbricht has filed a claim in the civil forfeiture action, asserting that he is the owner of the Bitcoins found on his computer hardware, and contesting the forfeiture of those Bitcoins.
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