Surrey Police Seizes £1.25 Million Bitcoin from Crime Gang Member
According to The Independent, the Surrey Police force have become the first UK force to seize Bitcoin, convert it into British money, and receive permission from a UK court to retain the cash for police coffers and government purposes. It is a large milestone for the cryptocurrency industry since cryptocurrencies will now be more readily recognized as an asset with an economic value in court.
Police Find Gang Member’s Cryptocurrency Stash After Being Reported Missing
The Independent reported that UK police discovered £1.2 million worth of Bitcoin with, money, gold, watches, and jewelry from Sergejs Teresko’s home after his girlfriend reported to the police that he had been kidnapped. Teresko, a senior member of an organized crime gang, was previously kidnapped from Virginia Water in Surrey in April 2017. The crime gang member managed to return safe, healthy and well the following day.
During the inspection, UK police discovered that Teresko was running a large cannabis factory from his rented home. In his home in Cobham, they found a keep key device holding Bitcoin tokens and discovered £263,000 in cash and designer watches.
Matt Durkin, the Detective Inspector of the case mentioned that “cryptocurrency is used legitimately by a lot of people but it’s also used by criminals. We know that in dark marketplaces Bitcoin is the chosen medium of exchange. We were not going to accept that Bitcoin was out of the reach of law enforcement, it’s not and nor are other types of cryptocurrency.”
The police also noted that while Teresko had no clear means of employment, they also discovered that he could access a safety deposit that contained gemstones, gold bars, jewelry and £20,000. Furthermore, he also owned a Range Rover Evoque which has a starting price of approximately $40,000.
The senior crime gang member eventually pleaded guilty to cultivation of cannabis, money laundering, possession, and control of articles for use in fraud and was sentenced to nine years and three months in jail.
Officials Seize Bitcoin and Consider Cryptocurrency as Valuable Asset
The Independent noted that earlier this week, a judge at the same Kingston Crown Court found that Teresko had benefited £2m from his criminal activities. He therefore had to provide £1.45m, which includes the value of his Bitcoin stash. Teresko was also forced to pay an extra £13,150 within three months. If he fails to do so, he will spend an additional 10 years in jail.
The officers seized 295 Bitcoin, which was worth £1.25m when converted to sterling or British pounds. The officers also seized designer watches like a £12,000 Rolex a Sapphire necklace valued at £9,000, and cash he stored in his safety deposit at home.
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