U.S. Sues to Recover $154 Million in Stolen Bitcoin

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  • The U.S. government has filed a civil suit to get $154 million worth of stolen funds returned from a bitcoin wallet
  • Rei Ishii allegedly stole the money from Sony Life Insurance Ltd and converted it to over 3,879
  • The private wallet has been seized and the U.S. now wants permission to liquidate the holdings

The U.S. government has gone to court to try and recover some $154 million worth of bitcoin which was stolen in cash from a Japanese insurance company and quickly converted. Rei Ishii is alleged to have stolen the incredible sum from a U.S. subsidiary of Sony Life Insurance Company Ltd through falsified transactions, which he then converted to bitcoin and hid in a cold wallet. However, authorities in Japan and the U.S. have managed to obtain the private key to the wallet and have applied to the courts for the bitcoin to be liquidated and the stolen funds returned.

Funds Stolen and Converted to Bitcoin

The audacious theft saw Ishii attempt to transfer funds between Sony Life’s accounts, which he did by falsifying transaction instructions, causing the funds to be transferred to an account in California that he controlled. According to the complaint, Ishii then quickly converted the funds into 3,879, which he then sent offline to a cold wallet.

The FBI was alerted to the theft by Sony Life and Citibank who worked with Japan’s National Police Agency, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office, and Japan Prosecutors unit on Emerging Crimes to obtain the private key to the wallet. This has led to the bitcoin in the wallet being “recovered and fully preserved” by U.S. authorities, with the funds removed in mid-2021, while Ishii has been charged with theft in Japan.

What Happens to Profits and Tax?

Interestingly, the haul is now worth $180 million, meaning that by the time the funds are liquidated, tens of millions of dollars in profit could have been made. What happens to these profits, and who pays the capital gains tax, has not been revealed.