German Authorities Seize $2.17 Billion in Bitcoin from Pirate Websites

In a significant operation against commercial pirate websites, German law enforcement has announced the temporary confiscation of around 50,000 Bitcoins (BTC), valued at approximately $2.17 billion. Executed in mid-January 2024, this marks the most extensive Bitcoin seizure by German authorities to date.

The operation was a collaborative effort involving the Dresden Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Saxony State Criminal Police Office, and the tax investigation department of the Leipzig II tax office, known as the Saxony Integrated Investigation Unit (INES). Additional support was provided by the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), the FBI, and a Munich-based computer forensic specialist firm. The seized Bitcoins were voluntarily transferred by a defendant to government wallets provided by the BKA. As this is a temporary seizure, the final decision on the disposal of Bitcoins is pending.

Ongoing investigations are primarily focused on suspicions of unauthorized commercial use of copyrighted works under the Copyright Act and subsequent commercial money laundering. The investigation targets two individuals, a 40-year-old German and a 37-year-old Polish man, who were reportedly involved in a leading German hacker portal until the end of May 2013. It is alleged that these individuals acquired BTC with the proceeds from their illicit activities.

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