In brief

  • Finland has decided to sell a large chunk of Bitcoin it seized in 2016.
  • At today's rate, the stash is worth $76 million.
  • Much of the Bitcoin was seized from darknet marketplace operators.

Tulli, Finland’s Customs department, has decided to sell a majority of its 1,961-strong Bitcoin holding, local publication yle reported Thursday. The stash is worth over $76 million at current rates and was seized in 2016.

While the seized assets were intended to be sold earlier in 2018, authorities were concerned about the Bitcoin finding its way back into criminal hands. These concerns still exist, but Tulli executives now see “no choice” but to sell the stash.

Pekka Pylkkänen, Tulli CFO, said the department would either sell the seized Bitcoin itself or through an intermediary. Bitcoin will be sold as soon as possible, in practice in the coming months.

He added the department weighed other options before the current decision, “On behalf of the Customs Act, we had the option of handing them over to another government agency or some other party and destroying them.”

 

“We came to the conclusion that alternatives other than sales are not realistic,” Pylkkänen said in a statement.

How did Finland end up with so much Bitcoin?

Most of the holdings originate from a 2016 bust of darknet operator Douppikauppa (Finnish for “dope store”)—then the largest operator of Valhalla, a darknet drug marketplace. The stash was worth barely over $700,000 back then, a time when Bitcoin traded at a fraction of its current $38,500 price, the report said.

At the time, Douppikauppa gained notoriety after an infamous interview on Deep Dot Web, a now-defunct news site that reported on darknet practices. The operator reportedly boasted that they would not “get caught” by authorities, adding Finnish cyber-security efforts were not effective for users of encrypted networks like Tor.

But the police seized over 1,666 Bitcoin from the notorious operator. The remaining amount was confiscated from various other drug busts, the report said.

Meanwhile, Tulli is yet to finalize the exact amount of Bitcoin it wants to liquidate, although as per Pylkkänen, the figure is at least 1,889 Bitcoin. The proceeds will then be transferred to Finland’s Ministry of Finance.