Stewarts Obtains an Asset Preservation Order (APO) for Over £1 Million Stolen in Bitcoin Author: Sherlock Gomes Last Updated: 22 August 2019 In an unprecedented decision, Stewarts recently obtained an asset preservation order (APO) from the court in a theft case where it lost £1 million to fraudsters. Bitcoin APO from court While asset preservation orders are not new, it could be the first time in history that an entity has received it in a case related to digital currencies. The court paid special attention to the eternal dilemma about digital coins- should they be considered as legal assets or not? If Bitcoin is considered legal, then users will be able to seek protection from regulatory authorities and handle a wide variety of commercial issues with much more ease. This would especially be a sign of relief for executors of estates and insolvency practitioners who will have a better idea of how to deal with digital currencies. The recent order from the court is related to a case of crypto theft related to Alphabit Fund CEO Liam Robertson. He is one of the largest digital asset traders in the Middle East, and Europe and his company provide digital asset management and advisory services. Robertson lost an investment of 100 Bitcoin, worth approx. £1.2 million at the time in a spear-phishing attack. An email account of a firm that he invested in was hacked. Stewarts named these unknown hackers as the first defendants in the case. How did the APO come across? Stewarts employed the services of blockchain investigations firm Chainalysis to track the stolen coins. Chainalysis confirmed that 80 BTC was sent to Coinbase UK, one of the leading crypto exchanges in the world. The rest 20 BTC were sent to some other local exchanges. The APO will demand Coinbase UK to secure the 80 BTC. It has also received a Bankers Trust Order that will mandate Coinbase to reveal the name of the person who held the coins. The crypto exchange supported Robertson, but it could not help him unless a court order permitted it to do so. Note that the English law creates a distinction between real property and personal property. Bitcoin cannot be a real property because it is an intangible asset. It also does not define a legally enforceable contract. Bitcoin essentially represents data, which cannot be counted as property. However, some people consider Bitcoin as a property, more specifically, a personal property that isn’t reflected in traditional definitions of the same. Stewarts also argued that the transfer of 100 BTC wasn’t a transfer of title. Therefore, an APO was ordered.