A bitcoin holder from the Republic of Ireland has been made to forfeit his cryptocurrency fortune after an investigation into his alleged criminal activities.
According to a recent report from The Independent, Clifton Collins, a man from Dublin, was ordered by the High Court of Ireland to surrender his entire Bitcoin holdings to the Criminal Assets Bureau (CBA) after the court ruled that the Bitcoins were purchased with money he got from dealing illicit drugs.
An Early Bitcoin Investor
As The Independent noted, Collins was involved in the supply and sale of drugs across the country. Authorities had begun investigating his activities as far back as 2017, when a vehicle being driven by him was stopped along the Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains. Upon further searching, authorities found that the vehicle contained a significant amount of cannabis. He was eventually charged under the country’s Misuse of Drugs Act.
Collins is noted to have been an investor in Bitcoin when the asset was still in its early days. He and was able to purchase 5,500 BTC (worth about $56 million at press time). However, it is also suspected that some of these purchases were made in a bid to launder his ill-gotten gains. Under the Proceeds of Crime legislation, the Dublin native is now compelled to forfeit everything to authorities.
While the nature of his wealth is undoubtedly fraudulent, the CAB explained that it was forcing a confiscation of Collins’ wealth to prevent him from moving the funds without court approval. The court has considered his investment in cryptocurrencies as criminal proceeds, nonetheless, opining that the initial investment was from money gotten from drug sales.
Collins has not contested the ruling at press time, giving further cause to believe that he doesn’t have a rebuttal for the case brought up against him. The confiscation of his digital assets is also said to be a major contributing factor to the record value of cryptocurrencies seized by the CAB in 2019- amounting to a total of €62 million (nearly $67 million).
Still No Way to Address the Crypto Crimes Problem
Cryptocurrency crimes are thriving by the day. Despite the numerous arrests and convictions of individuals on criminal platforms and the Dark Web, criminal activities in the crypto space were still able to thrive in 2019. According to a recent report from blockchain data analytics firm Chainalysis, illicit activity in the crypto space doubled last year- surging to 0.08 percent of all transactions from the 0.04 percent recorded in 2018.
In financial terms, over $40 billion was noted to have been fraudulent within the first nine months of the year as well.
The use of cryptocurrencies for criminal activity is the primary reason why several jurisdictions have imposed new Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC). The travel rule from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the European union’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD5) have started getting implemented, and the hope is that they will be able to stem the flow of digital assets into the hands of criminals.