CAB unable to access €52m in Bitcoin as codes are missing

CAB unable to access €52m in Bitcoin as codes are missing
Bitcoin. File image

The Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is not yet able to access the €52m in Bitcoin seized as part of a recent drugs investigation as the codes to access the cryptocurrency are missing.

It follows a High Court ruling earlier this week which ruled that the bitcoin, owned by now 49-year-old Clifton Collins, was the proceeds of crime and should be surrendered. 

A permanent freezing order was placed on the currency.

It is believed that the €52m in the cryptocurrency is the largest single-value asset ever seized by CAB.

However, recent media reports have revealed that the accounts holding the bitcoin cannot be accessed as the codes have been lost.

The investigation leading to the seizure began in 2017 after Collins, who has an address in Crumlin in Dublin, was stopped driving a jeep in the Sally Gap in Wicklow.

A quantity of cannabis was found in the vehicle and follow up investigations led Gardaí to a Galway grow-house containing some €450,000 in cannabis plants. 

CAB was subsequently called in when it was discovered that Collins had Bitcoin holdings and was an early investor in the controversial cryptocurrency, which was created in 2009.

It's believed that Collins printed the codes on an A4 piece of paper and hid them in the aluminium cap of a fishing rod case he kept in a rented property in Farnaught, Cornamona in Galway.

However, after he was jailed for five years the landlord of the house cleared out his belongings.

After that, three things happened.

Police arrested Collins after finding €2,000 worth of cannabis in his car. He was sentenced to five years in jail. The house was subsequently cleared out with many of Collins' possessions being taken to the dump. 

As a result, the codes have been lost.

In July of last year, CAB secured a temporary freezing order on the Bitcoin under Proceeds of Crime legislation. The freezing of the cryptocurrency was made permanent this week. 

CAB can hold the currency for seven years and then hand it over to the Department of Finance.

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