Skip to main content

Silk Road and owner Ulbricht forfeit combined $158m Bitcoin fortune

Silk Road has given up Bitcoins worth $28 million [£18 million] to US prosecutors as the country’s government continues to investigate the site that was shut down in October last year.

Related: FBI struggling to crack Ross Ulbricht’s £49.7 million Bitcoin fortune

The forfeiture involved 29,655 Bitcoins that were seized from the Silk Road server and were taken as it was used to facilitate money laundering and constitutes property involved in money laundering.

“With today’s forfeiture of $28 million worth of Bitcoins from the Silk Road website, a global cyber business designed to broker criminal transactions, we continue our efforts to take the profit out of crime and signal to those who would turn to the dark web for illicit activity that they have chosen the wrong path. These Bitcoins were forfeited not because they are Bitcoins, but because they were, as the court found, the proceeds of crimes,” read a statement from Manhattan US attorney Preet Bharara.

The US authorities claim that the site was set up to “enable its users to buy and sell illegal drugs and other unlawful goods and services anonymously.”

The same action saw almost 144,336 Bitcoins seized from the site’s alleged owner Ross William Ulbricht, which are worth some $130 million [£79 million] at the current Bitcoin valuation.

Ulbricht has filed a civil claim against the forfeiture that states he is the owner of the Bitcoins found on his computer hardware and they weren’t earned through the Silk Road site.

Authorities caught up with Ulbricht back in October 2013 when he was arrested by the FBI “without incident” whilst in a San Francisco public library. The charges levelled against him include conspiracy to traffic narcotics using the site and at the time he had around $3.6 million [£2.2 million] worth of Bitcoins confiscated.

Related: An in-depth look at the Bitcoin value surge: How long will it last?

When the site was operating it could only be accessed through The Onion Router [Tor], which operates on the deep web and allow sites to stay out of the reach of authorities by routing connections through a range of complex layers.