A slam dunk case backfires and ends up costing Sweden more than $1.5 million as the price of BTC increased dramatically.
The Devil Is in the Details
You know the old saying “ the devil is in the details”? Well, a prosecutor for the Swedish government just learned a valuable lesson, costing the country a neat sum of more than $1.5 million.
Three Men Arrested for Selling Drugs Online
The whole thing started two years ago, when the Swedish Enforcement Authority seized 36 bitcoin after having arrested three men for selling drugs online. At the time, the BTC was worth around $3,700 a piece. Prosecutor Tove Kullberg had been assigned to the case and in order to be able to seize all 36 bitcoin, Kullberg would have to prove to the court that the drug dealer had gotten them through their illegal drug business.
Kullberg had a solid case so it came as no surprise when the court granted her wish to seize them. Case closed? Not exactly.
Debt to Society
Where Kullberg went wrong was when she calculated and used the dollar value of the 36 bitcoin in the case instead of the number of BTC. At the time, the full value was around $136,000, so when the men are sentenced to 4-6 years in prison, that is the amount considered to be their debt to society.
Unfortunately Ms Kullberg did not anticipate the potential increase in value. It also takes a full two years for the part of the government in charge of auctioning off the 36 coins to do so.
No Other Choice
During this time, the price of bitcoin had gone up significantly. Now trading closer to $49,000, this means that the debt of $136,000 can be taken care of by only selling 3 BTC. With Kullberg only having used the monetary value in the case, the government has no choice but to return the remaining 33 bitcoin to the drug dealers at a value of around $1.5 million.
Unfortunate in Many Ways
In an interview with Swedish Radio, Kullberg called the situation “unfortunate in many ways.”
“The lesson to be learned from this is to keep the value in bitcoin, that the profit from the crime should be 36 bitcoin, regardless of what value bitcoin has at the time,” said Kullberg.
“It has led to consequences I was not able to foresee at the time.”
First of Its Kind
The entire situation seems easily avoidable but because the case was the first of its kind, involving cryptocurrency seizure, in Sweden, there was no legal precedent set.
As a solution to avoid the same mistake being made in the future, Kullberg shared her ideas on Swedish Radio.
“I think we should probably invest in an internal education in the authority, as cryptocurrency will be a factor we’ll be dealing with to a much greater extent than we are today. The more we increase the level of knowledge within the organization, the fewer mistakes we will make.”
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