A Finnish customs official has revealed that the agency is currently in possession of millions of euros in seized crypto-assets.
According to a report by local news outlet Yle on Tuesday, the Finnish customs agency is in control of 1,666 BTC worth more than €15 million ($16.23 million). The agency seized the bitcoin years ago in a major drug bust, but has yet to convert the cryptocurrency into euros.
The report claims the agency is mulling its options in regards to the seized crypto. An original proposal to sell the bitcoin in 2018 as part of an auction was turned down due to concerns that the funds would fall back into criminal hands.
Pekka Pylkkanen, Customs’ Finance Director, said the agency’s primary concern is money-laundering, stating, “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.”
Juri Mattila, a researcher at the Finnish Institute of Economic Research, argued against the notion that bitcoin is used primarily for criminal activity, commenting, “Nowadays there are other virtual currencies that are more difficult to track [by authorities] than bitcoin which may now be used in criminal activities.”
Henry Brade, Founder of cryptocurrency firm Prasos, told Yle that Customs should sell the crypto-assets to legitimate investors while downplaying the risk of money-laundering, saying, “Of course, if Customs sold off the bitcoin anonymously, the risks would be massive. But if they sold them in a sensible manner, I don’t see a problem here.”
In addition to bitcoin, the Finnish agency is also in possession of “millions of euros” in other crypto-assets acquired from criminal seizures over the years.