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Auction of Bitcoins Seized in the Fight Against Cybercrime in Germany

  • The Ministry of Justice of North Rhine-Westphalia hopes to obtain some 13 million dollars from this unprecedented event.
  • 250 seized bitcoins will also be put up for auction, according to authorities.

The Ministry of Justice of North Rhine-Westphalia set up a public auction on Monday, October 25th,  for a cache of bitcoins that had been seized by Police during their operations against organized cyber crime. The funds raised from the auction, which is receiving coverage from the media and through social networks, are expected to reach at least six-digit figures.

According to the current price of Bitcoin, the total amount seized would be worth a little over 30 million dollars, so expectations around the event are very high. This is the first time that an event of this nature has been set up in Germany using seized cryptocurrencies.

“We expected there would be a lot of interest, but this auction has exceeded all our forecasts,” said Hilal Tanrisever, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice of the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

The opening of the auction was broadcast live at 1:30 PM CEST , via the “Legal Tribunal Online” Twitter account (@jm_nrw), and on YouTube. The decision was made in view of the complexity of the operation, explained Justice Minister Peter Biesenbach.

The government decided to use its own web site, www.Justiz-Auktion.de, to comply with the legal requirements behind the auction of 215 bitcoins, which would be valued at a little over $13 million, going by Bitcoin’s standing price of $62,000 at the time of writing.

While pressing a virtual green button to start the auction, officials stated: “The Finance Minister is keeping his fingers crossed for us.” No wonder since all the money collected in the auction will go directly into the state’s coffers.

The event, which is being held at the headquarters of the Cologne Public Prosecutor’s Office, was organized by the Ministry of Justice, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the ZAC NRW Cybercrime Center, the State Information Office and the Land Communication and Technology departments.

How to Participate in the Auction

To participate in the auction and bid for bitcoins, interested parties can access the Justiz-Auktion.de site, where they can find detailed information on the requirements.

Before putting the seized tokens up for auction, the authorities considered what to do with them, given that there was no set precedent for digital money. The government decided that it would receive the same treatment as any other seized property, such as a car, a building, or jewels.

"Every euro that is withdrawn from criminal structures helps to weaken them,"

said Markus Hartmann, head of the North Rhine-Westphalian Central Cybercrime Department.

A further 250 BTC, also seized by the police, is set to be auctioned as well, according to official information.

Prior to the auction, ZAC NRW spokesperson Chrisoph Hebbecker had stated:

"It will be an auction like any other, only this time for bitcoin."

On The Flipside

  • A likely deciding factor for the auction of the 215 bitcoins is that the German government has almost certainly been observing recent events in the crypto market.
  • With the cryptocurrency on an upward trend, the auction’s profits are certain to be maximized, something that the German coffers will appreciate.

Why You Should Care?

  • This is the first time that bitcoin seized during police action against organized crime have been auctioned.
  • There have already been auctions of other types of goods that accept payment in cryptocurrencies. One such event was held in New York last May, during an event held by the auction house, Sotheby’s.

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