Finland is looking to hire a broker to sell 1,981 bitcoins seized in drug bust

A Bitcoin ATM machine, to buy or sell cryptocurrencies, is placed within a safety cage on January 29, 2021 in Barcelona, Spain.
A bitcoin ATM machine in Barcelona, Spain.

  • Finland is looking for a broker to sell 1,981 bitcoins seized in drug busts, Bloomberg reported.
  • The bitcoins, worth around $79 million at time of publication, are currently with Finnish Customs.
  • Hiring a broker, the government said, will allow for the safe and reliable selling of cryptocurrencies.
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Finland is looking to hire a broker to sell 1,981 bitcoins seized in drug busts to convert them into hard currency, Bloomberg first reported.

The bitcoins, worth around $79 million at time of publications, are currently with Finnish Customs.

According to Pekka Pylkkanen, the authority’s director of financial management, a broker will ensure the safe and reliable selling of cryptocurrencies.

The country’s customs authority is expecting to sign up to three brokers for a two-year agreement valued at roughly €250,000 ($297,000) and could reach as much as €2 million in the event of more seizures, Bloomberg reported. The range takes into consideration the volatile price movement of the assets.

Most of the seized bitcoins (1,666 out of 1,981) were confiscated in 2016 after the arrest of Finnish drug dealer Douppikauppa, according to The Block. The government, at that time, told authorities they were prohibited from storing the coins on virtual currency exchanges and must keep them off digital platforms.

The customs authority was reportedly looking to sell as early as 2018 but feared this might fall into the hands of criminals yet again, The Block reported.

The rocketing price of bitcoin, however, seems to have prompted Finnish authorities to liquidate.

Multiple countries in recent years have sold cryptocurrencies seized during criminal investigations with the US first taking the step in 2014.

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Bitcoin is speculative, bad for the planet, and often used for crime, the Bank for International Settlements says

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Central banks are keeping a close eye on bitcoin.

  • Bitcoin is a speculative asset that is used for crime and is bad for the planet, the BIS has said.
  • The international organization said bitcoin has “few redeeming public-interest attributes.”
  • Regulators and central banks are paying increasing attention to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Crypto tokens such as bitcoin are speculative assets rather than currencies, are often used for crimes such as money laundering, and waste energy, the Bank for International Settlements has said.

Bitcoin “has few redeeming public interest attributes,” the BIS said on Wednesday, in a chapter of its annual economic report. The BIS is an international organization that acts as a central bank for central banks and aims to foster global financial cooperation.

“By now, it is clear that cryptocurrencies are speculative assets rather than money, and in many cases are used to facilitate money laundering, ransomware attacks and other financial crimes.”

The report continued: “Bitcoin in particular has few redeeming public interest attributes when also considering its wasteful energy footprint.”

Research by Cambridge University has found the bitcoin network – which is secured by vast amounts of computing power – uses around the same amount of energy each year as the Netherlands.

Regulators and central banks are paying more and more attention to cryptocurrencies, which they broadly see as dangerously volatile. Earlier in June, a top banking regulator, based at the BIS, advocated for the toughest possible rules for banks holding crypto.

Wednesday’s BIS report looked at the case for central bank digital currencies, and also took aim at stablecoins and the growing dominance of a select few tech firms over digital payments.

“Innovations such as cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and the walled garden ecosystems of big techs all tend to work against the public good element that underpins the payment system,” it said.

The report said stablecoins – crypto tokens that are backed by reserve assets – “have the potential to fragment the liquidity of the monetary system.” But it said their reliance on traditional assets means they’re “not a game changer.”

The BIS said the growing dominance of a few tech firms is perhaps the biggest danger to the safety and smooth functioning of global payment systems. It said the firms’ rising market power could keep costs high, cause data protection issues, and freeze some people out.

Central banks are increasingly working on their own digital currencies. Although these projects have coincided with the crypto boom, central bankers say they are more concerned about private payment systems becoming too big to fail.

Huw van Steenis, chief advisor to the CEO of Swiss bank UBS, told Insider in May: “If you think about the pandemic, it’s probably fast-forwarded the shift away from cash to digital by about three to five years.”

He added: “No central banker ever wants to feel they might lose control of their currency.”

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