Why on earth did he return the coins?
Even if they gave him 15 years he'd be white collar, out in under 8 and made for life.
An ex-Secret Service agent who stole Bitcoins from the Silk Road dark web drugs bazaar he was supposed to be investigating has admitted stealing even more sacks of the digital currency. Shaun Bridges, who is already serving a six-year sentence for nicking Bitcoins from the underground souk, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to …
"According to court documents Bridges, 35, was probing European Bitcoin trading firm Bitstamp, which led to the US government seizing 1,606,6488 BTC in November 2014."
As per the bold, under what laws do the Americans have jurisdication over a European firm?
To paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson: I am sick of these motherfucking Americans on this motherfucking planet!
It's NOT YOUR PLANET!
(With all due apologies to all the nice Americans who don't work for the various TLA's...)
There are no federal laws here that require any privately owned business to accept only US currency, or any currency for that matter. Local laws may specify it in some places, but afaik there's nothing here that says you can't accept Bitcoin or shiny red buttons for currency if you wanted to.
Are you saying that I could illegally gain a massive amount of any item, and trade it for a wide variety of other things, and that would also be laundering?
Correct, if the items were originally bought for money or used in lieu of money and the intention is to later turn the items into cash. If you stole casino chips from a gangster who had purchased them from the proceeds of crime or been given them as payment for carrying out a crime, and you had the intention of ultimately using them to get money, you would be guilty of money-laundering.
You don't care if any businesses accept bitcoins for products/services if you have online exchanges that will accept bitcoins for dollars.
Here's your money laundering 101:
step 1) commit crime, be paid in bitcoin
step 2) trade bitcoins for dollars
step 3) if caught, claim "I mined these shortly after bitcoin was created, and have been sitting on them for years watching their price go up, so I decided to start selling a few"
They'd have to prove you didn't mine those bitcoins years ago (is there a way to tell?) to do you for money laundering, or take the presumably more difficult route of prosecuting you for the crime you committed.
I'm a bit weak on the details, but I've read that it's a PUBLIC ledger.
Well yes, but that does not mean that it is traceable to a particular person. If you spend any portion of a bitcoin your "change" will be from a completely different place. There are also sites that deliberately "mix" your bitcoin to prevent it being traced. It is somewhat similar to the serial number on a banknote - those could perhaps be used to determine who originally withdrew a particular £20 from a bank or ATM, but if that person used it to buy an item for £1, the money he received in change will no longer be traceable to him.
"They'd have to prove you didn't mine those bitcoins years ago"
Thats probably not as hard as you'd imagine. Especially if the coins haven't been transacted much.
The blockchain is a ledger that holds a record of everywhere a coin has been. The ledger may be anonymous but eventually you have to do something with the coins you hold otherwise they aren't worth holding. Its at the point of sale / trade they can nail you.
Bitcoin is not a magic protocol that allows you to make money vanish.
Hang on, did I read that right - "US government seizing 1,606,6488 BTC in November 2014" - that's $71,046,009,936 in today's currency!
I'm sorry, but when exactly was that much monetray value mined into existence?!?!
And weren't the original owners (miners?) compensated for state seizure?
PS. That bitcoin eh? Totally untraceable so perfect for crims, I think not...
For all of you non-Americans wondering why this becomes a US crime: a criminal act (theft) committed while on US soil (sitting in front of a workstation located here in the States connected to a server anywhere on this planet or anywhere else counts as "US soil") is a US crime, subject to prosecution here. That doesn't mean that he's *not* subject to prosecution or civil suit elsewhere, either.
As an accountant (an Enrolled Agent, recognized to practice before the Internal Revenue Service), let me just state that the Treasury Dept has somewhat clarified its stance on BTC in recent years. While US law forbids it being considered "currency," it *is* considered a capital asset, so stealing it is akin to stealing anything else (such as intellectual property, also able to be stolen via computer here from anywhere in the world).
Compound that with whether the BTC itself had already been subject to seizure by the US. In that case, he stole *from* the US, which of course, is also a crime. (I am not familiar with the full circumstances, and while I am an accountant, IANAL.)