Selling passports is a lucrative business and a source of income for several countries in the European Union – a practice that is frowned upon by a number of nations. However, Bulgaria has continued its sale of passports, but certain officials have been accused of accepting bribes in Bitcoin in order for applications to be accepted or sped up.
Three officials have been arrested and accused of falsifying more than 40 fake documents a week for a sum of $5,000 – to be paid in Bitcoin – each. The penalties for not paying the bribes would be significant delays to time-sensitive documents that would complicate the passport application process.
Why Is Bulgaria Selling Passports?
There is a long list of countries that sell passports to wealthy individuals. They are called Individual Investor Programmes (IIP), whereby if you invest a certain amount of money into government bonds and buy a property in a certain location of a certain value, the government will consider you a citizen of the country and issue you a passport. Malta is a very popular country for the IIP, but it costs a considerable amount more than Bulgaria. The practice has been slammed by members of the European Union, as the vetting process isn’t always rigorous, meaning undesired people are given freedom of movement inside Europe.
Bribes in the Crypto World
Listing fees on crypto exchanges are often seen as bribes, and in a bid to remove this stigma from their sites, many crypto exchanges are abolishing listing fees entirely. Coinbase led the way and removed its listing fees – as well as introducing a more streamlined listing process – back in September. Other exchanges are starting to follow suit, with Bittrex being the latest exchange to cut its listing fees. John McAfee also admitted to having a pay-per-tweet system in place, whereby projects would pay him to post a tweet about their project. While this isn’t a direct bribe, it certainly feels like McAfee is being bribed in order to promote a service at the end of the day. These types of “bribes” are fairly commonplace in the crypto world and are nothing to be alarmed about – even if they are somewhat deceptive.
Why Bribe in Bitcoin?
Bitcoin bribes are possibly one of the worst ideas, due to the fact that all transactions are public. Once a user transfers in or out of an exchange, they will forever be associated with the corresponding wallet address, meaning these unscrupulous payments are super easy to track back to the people making and receiving the bribes. Had the parties decided to use a mixing service or decentralized exchange, there is a good chance that the bribes would have remained under the radar. These types of mistakes come from rookies and highlight the low level of knowledge the individuals have about Bitcoin and the crypto world – better luck next time.
While the fate of these government officials is still not yet known, there is a good chance that this will be the last we hear about the matter. Powerful people tend to have friends in powerful places that can make these cases disappear. For the future, if you’re going to accept bribes in Bitcoin, at least be smart about it and use a mixer.