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Bitcoins worth two billion euros handed over to BKA

Bitcoin coins lying on a table / Photo: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa/Symbolic image
Bitcoin coins lying on a table / Photo: Fernando Gutierrez-Juarez/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa/Symbolic image

During investigations, 50,000 bitcoins have been provisionally seized in Saxony. The bitcoins were worth around two billion euros at Tuesday's exchange rate, Kay Anders, press spokesman for the Saxon State Criminal Police Office (LKA), confirmed to the German Press Agency. According to the report, one of the suspects in the investigation had voluntarily transferred the virtual currency to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).

The investigations were directed against a 40-year-old and a 37-year-old man. According to the LKA, it is suspected that the men operated a piracy portal until the end of May 2013. They are said to have used the proceeds to purchase bitcoins.

The investigations by the Dresden Public Prosecutor General's Office, the Saxony State Criminal Police Office and the tax investigation department of the Leipzig tax office were supported by the BKA, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a Munich-based IT expert firm, it was reported.

According to Patrick Pintaske, spokesman for the Public Prosecutor General's Office in Dresden, no charges have yet been brought against the men. "If charges are brought, the investigation is closed," said Pintaske. Further background to the case would then be known at the latest at the start of the possible trial against the two men.

According to the LKA, this seizure of bitcoins by law enforcement authorities is the most extensive in Germany to date. One of the men had transferred the bitcoins to a so-called wallet - i.e. an account for the virtual currency - of the BKA. No final decision has yet been made on the utilization of the bitcoins, it said.

In order to combat structural and serious cases of situational corruption, Saxony set up its own investigation unit called Ines in 2004, which is also investigating this case. Since 2009, the group has reportedly also been involved in the prosecution of high-profile and particularly significant investigations into serious or organized crime. In addition to public prosecutors, the group also includes a specialist for the evaluation of financial and banking matters.

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