On the day when the cryptocurrency bitcoin broke through the USD 10,000 mark, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry refused to explain how it is managing the 213,519 bitcoins seized under the PRATKA/VIRUS operation against Customs fraudsters.

The announcement of the seizure of such an amount by the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) is from May 29 and can be seen here. Seized bitcoins were valued at USD 500 million at the then-exchange rate.

In the meantime, Bitcoin Cash was created, with each Bitcoin owner receiving the same amount of Bitcoin Cash. Bitcoin Cash now costs over USD 1,500.

Under the current exchange rate, the 213,519 BTC plus the same in Bitcoin Cash amount to the impressive USD 2.45 billion or over BGN 4 billion.

The questions, which Bivol sent to the Interior Ministry under the Access to Public Information Act (APIA), aimed at making public the information on how this impressive loot that can easily be appropriated is managed and preserved.

 

 

In order to prevent abuse, it is sufficient to publish the public keys of the wallets where the bitcoins are stored. However, the Interior Ministry refuses to do so.

In the refusal to provide public information, the Interior Ministry writes that the requested data is specific information from an investigation related to criminal proceedings – an investigative case on the inventory of the Investigative Unit of the Special Prosecutor’s Office, which is leading the investigation.

However, it is unclear what prevents public keys from being published once information on the seized bitcoins has already been officially shared with SELEC.

Huge success or colossal crypto-embarrassment?

There is also the premise that the Interior Ministry has misled international partners by misrepresenting information on the seized bitcoins. In fact, if the private keys (passwords) for these wallets are missing, they are virtually unusable and it cannot be claimed that they have been seized in the sense of this word.

This will not be the first “joke” authored by Bulgarian law enforcement authorities, but it will surely be the biggest brag published as official information.

It is regrettable that no Bulgarian media, other than Bivol, follows the topic and questions the Bulgarian authorities about this national wealth, which, on condition that it exists, could be invested and multiplied for the good of Bulgarian people.

The largest confirmed seizure of cryptocurrency has so far has been the 144,336 bitcoins, after the FBI shut down the “Silk Road” site. The bitcoins were auctioned and generated USD 48 million for the US government.

 

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