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Finnish Customs No Sure What To Do with 15M Euro Seized in Bitcoin

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Finnish Customs No Sure What To Do with 15M Euro Seized in Bitcoin
Finnish Customs No Sure What To Do with 15M Euro Seized in Bitcoin

While some governments are selling bitcoins (BTC) confiscated through law enforcement actions, Finland is yet to decide what to do with its seized BTC. Finnish Customs, operating under the Ministry of Finance, has reportedly been deliberating about what to do with 1,666 bitcoins seized from drug criminals years ago. As reported by Finland’s national public broadcasting firm on Feb. 25, the Finnish Customs service doesn’t want to auction the confiscated Bitcoin because the cryptocurrency could be returned to the hands of criminals.

According to the report, at the time of the seizure the amount of confiscated Bitcoin was worth less than 700,000 euros, or roughly $760,000. As of press time, 1,666 BTC is worth nearly 15 million euros — or more than $15.5 million, according to data from Coin360. The authority was reportedly initially planning to auction the funds back in 2018, but eventually ended up with hodling the crypto, citing Anti-Money Laundering (AML) concerns. Pekka Pylkkänen, head of finance at the Finnish Customs service, said that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are primarily used for illicit practices:

“From our point of view, the problems are specifically related to the risk of money laundering. The buyers of cybercurrency rarely use them for normal endeavours.”

Apart from holding over $15 million in Bitcoin, Finnish Customs also holds a number of seized altcoins worth of millions of euros, the report notes. 

Whatever the reason behind Finnish Customs’ decision to hodl the confiscated crypto, the authority is apparently not alone in thinking that Bitcoin and other cryptos might be more dangerous than cash in terms of money laundering. In July 2019, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin voiced an extremely sceptical opinion of Bitcoin, arguing that cash is not laundered in the same way as Bitcoin. Meanwhile, other countries over the world do not appear so concerned about taking profits from hodling Bitcoin.

On Feb. 18, the United States Marshals Service sold another batch of Bitcoin confiscated during its enforcement operations. According to data compiled by well-known crypto industry figure Jameson Lopp, the U.S. Marshals has missed out on over $1.7 billion by selling seized Bitcoin too early. The agency has confiscated and sold 185,230 bitcoins, according to Lopp’s data.

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Altcoin News

Is Crypto Growing In Africa?

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Is Crypto Growing In Africa
Is Crypto Growing In Africa?

Crypto adoption is making significant advances in Africa, with crypto ownership, trade volume, and regulation all moving toward greater adoption. A recent report by Arcane Research and Luno found that Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya are frequently among the top 10 countries by Google searches for the word “Bitcoin.” The report describes the continent as “one of, if not the most promising region for the adoption of cryptocurrencies,” emphasizing Africa’s combination of low existing crypto adoption alongside an “enormous” domain possibility. The firms emphasize that Africa exhibits a young population, frequent monetary crises and currency failures, large unbanked or underbanked populations, and expensive means of payment.

While Nigeria has long dominated the continent’s trade volume, the report found that South Africa has the highest percent of cryptocurrency ownership or use among internet users in Africa with 13%, followed by Nigeria with 11%. Worldwide, South Africa ranks fifth for crypto adoption among connected citizens. This past week saw South Africa post its second-strongest weekly volume on peer-to-peer Bitcoin (BTC) marketplace Localbitcoins, with nearly $1.65 million worth of BTC changing hands.

Weekly Localbitcoins trade volume: Coin.dance

The surge in trade activity saw total P2P volume for South African trade edge out Kenya last week with $1.95 million in trade across Localbitcoins and Paxful. Last month, South Africa’s financial regulator issued a policy document asserting that crypto-assets and activities relating to virtual currencies “can no longer remain outside of the regulatory perimeter.”

Nigerian P2P trade is rallying to record highs, producing $9.2 million in combined weekly trade. Kenyan trade has also seen a recent spike, with Localbitcoins trade between BTC and the Kenyan shilling producing its second-strongest week on record for the third consecutive time. Morocco and Egypt have also posted record trade activity in recent weeks. The increase in volume across the continent has also seen P2P volume from Sub Saharan Africa beat out Latin America for the first time.

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Altcoin News

Craig Wright Says He Did Not Transfer ‘Satoshi’ Coins, Leaving Him in Legal Catch-22

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Craig Wright Says He Did Not Transfer ‘Satoshi’ Coins, Leaving Him in Legal Catch-22
Craig Wright Says He Did Not Transfer ‘Satoshi’ Coins, Leaving Him in Legal Catch-22

Bitcoin’s SV’s billionaire benefactor Calvin Ayre revealed Satoshi claimant Craig Wright has denied moving 50 BTC from a long-dormant address thought by some to belong to the Bitcoin founder. On Wednesday, an unknown party moved 50 BTC ⁠— roughly $486,000 worth — from an address containing coins mined barely one month after the launch of the Bitcoin mainnet in 2009. But in a Twitter response to Blockstream’s Adam Back, Ayre said it had nothing to do with Wright:

“It was NOT Satoshi, I just spoke with him and Craig confirmed not him.”

However, the address in question, 17XiVVooLcdCUCMf9s4t4jTExacxwFS5uh, is among the 16,000 listed in a court document in the Kleinman v. Wright case, that Wright claims as his own. The Catch-22 in this situation is that Wright has denied in court he has access to the private keys to the addresses, so if he said he moved the 50 BTC he’d be in trouble. However if someone else moved the coins, that would indicate the address does not belong to him, again leaving him in a potentially sticky legal situation. If Ayre is to be believed regarding Wright’s denial, the latter could face serious complications in the ongoing trial. The judge has already questioned Wright’s credibility on more than one occasion.

Prior to Ayre’s response, the movement of 50 BTC from the dormant wallet had many in the crypto community asking whether Nakamoto himself was back. The wallet address is not one associated with the Bitcoin creator, but the 11-year gap in activity still caused a 5% drop in BTC price — from the $9,700s to $9,400s — when the news broke.

Wright’s denial should stem any fears he’s about to sell off a large amount of Bitcoin. In 2018, he posted an ominous warning on Slack, explaining in detail how he’d be selling a “large volume of BTC” around the time of a halving that would tank the price. Others in the crypto community, however, are highly skeptical the tokens belong to either Nakamoto or Wright. Blockstream founder Adam Back thinks if the real Satoshi were to liquidate some of his holdings, he would choose a more anonymous address.

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Bitcoin News

Does ISIS Have $300M In A Bitcoin ‘War Chest’?

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Does ISIS Have $300M In A Bitcoin ‘War Chest’
Does ISIS Have $300M In A Bitcoin ‘War Chest’?

Blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis has published a report debunking a number of popular narratives surrounding the use of crypto to finance terrorism. The report emphasizes the harm of false reporting in spreading misinformation and damaging the reputation of firms operating with virtual currencies. As “a trusted investigative partner to governments around the world, preventing terrorists from using cryptocurrency is one of our primary objectives,” Chainalysis states. “It’s a serious task, and it’s important to be responsible and judicious when releasing information on a subject as consequential as terrorism financing.”

Chainalysis cites reports from over the last week claiming that ISIS’s missing $300 million war chest is being held in Bitcoin (BTC). Despite being expressed as a certainty in mainstream reporting, the primary source for the reports, Hans-Jakob Schindler, director of the Counter Extremism Project think-tank, merely suggested that cryptocurrencies “might have been one of the ways [the funds] might have been used.” Apart from highlighting how Schindler’s claims had been beaten up, Chainalysis said that “Schindler’s theory is highly unlikely” in any case.

“We know that most terrorism financing campaigns have raised less than $10,000, indicating limited adoption. Further, if ISIS had funneled oil proceeds into Bitcoin, trading volume of regional exchanges and money service businesses would have reflected this flow of funds.”

The report also notes poorly founded claims that ISIS funded its 2019 Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka using Bitcoin, citing Chainalysis’ 2020 Crypto Crime Report in refuting that crypto was used as a means to fund the attacks. However, a separate report from the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research released today, shows the ISIS offshoots in South East Asia have been using crypto for money laundering.

At the start of the year, reports claimed that the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza had raised $24 million through the local money service business Cash4PS. Chainalysis noted significant flaws underpinning the story, asserting that the reports assumed that every single transfer to Cash4PS wallets was related to terror financing without evidence. Further, the majority of funds received by Cash4PS wallets were from other addresses within the Cash4PS network, with Chainalysis estimating that only $1 million was transferred into the network from external sources.

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