The mystery surrounding the fate of Bulgaria’s 200k bitcoins that were captured as part of a cybercrime investigation continued to baffle the global crypto community. For the record in May 2017, the Southeast European Law Enforcement Center [SELEC] revealed that the Bulgarian authorities had seized a total of 213,519 bitcoins in a crackdown on an alleged customs fraud scam.
The operation which was codenamed ‘Pratka/Virus’ targeted a scheme that compromise the customs’ computer systems for tax evasion purposes. Authorities also alleged that those involved developed a virus that was designed to hack into Bulgarian Customs computers, allowing the criminals to avoid paying fees when transporting goods into the country.
According to the press release, the virus was uploaded to government machines by inside agents who were bribed. However, the fate of the confiscated stash of bitcoins which is now worth a whopping $7.4 billion is still uncertain.
Club Z, local media news and analysis group, and a member of the parliament have recently asked three Bulgarian ministries with regards to its missing crypto fortune. But the ministry continued to maintain ignorance on the information sparking numerous debates and rumors.
Bulgaria’s authorites in denial mode
The information about the seized crypto funds was categorically denied by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office chief, Ivan Geshev, currently working as Bulgaria’s Prosecutor General, who attributed SELEC’s claim as false. His statement was further corroborated by Ivailo Spiridonov, then director of the country’s organized crime combating agency, GDBOP.
Similar sentiments were echoed by the ministries when asked about the whereabouts of the nabbed assets. The Finance department in its response stated that it’s Minister Asen Vasilev had ordered the National Revenue Agency and the National Customs Agency to conduct an investigation.
Acting in accordance with inputs received by the department last August, a deputy prosecutor-general went on to declare that the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office had not seized any crypto assets and did not hold the said amount of cryptocurrency.
Having said that, last week, Bulgaria’s deputy prime minister for EU Funds and minister of Finance, Assen Vassilev, said the EU member nation is mulling plans to roll out a crypto payment mechanism.
As per a Bloomberg report, Vassilev said the government was in talks with the Bulgarian National Bank as well as industry players to explore crypto payments “in the short to medium term.”