Ernst & Young to auction 24 518 bitcoins from Silk Road as currency prices soar

Ernst & Young to auction 24 518 bitcoins from Silk Road as currency prices soar

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Ernst & Young, the London-based professional services multinational company, announced it will auction 24 518 bitcoins. The auction will take place in Sydney in June.

At current prices the bitcoins would cost $13 million, as in the past several days the price of the cryptocurrency surged to its highest levels in the past 2 years and passed the $530 mark.

The bitcoins in question were seized as part of a 2014 criminal investigation of illicit activities on the now defunct online dark market Silk Road. According to Australian media, the bitcoins belonged to Australian IT specialist Richard Pollard who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for commercial drug trafficking through the website.

The cryptocurrency will be split into 11 lots of 2000 bitcoins each and there will be one larger lot of 2518. The auction is not limited to Australian citizens.

According to Adam Nikitins, partner in Ernst & Young, quoted by media, the seller expects interest from asset investment managers, currency exchanges, investment banks and hedge funds in North America and Europe. “The number of bitcoin transactions since 2012 has quadrupled and parties are seeing more opportunities and uses for the technology,” Nikitins told Reuters.

This would not be the first auction of bitcoins confiscated from Silk Road. In 2014 and 2015 the US Marshals sold more than 170 000 bitcoins seized in the operation.

Silk Road was an “online store” for illegal goods. It was part of the so-called Dark Web – hidden networks that can only be accessed by authorized people.

The black market was launched in 2011. About 70% of the goods sold on it were illegal drugs, but there was also child pornography, stolen credit card numbers, weapons and contracts for murders. Its alleged owner Ross Ulbricht was arrested in 2013. In he 2015 received five sentences, including two for life imprisonment without the right to parole. Authorities across the world arrested and sentenced other dealers on Silk Road.

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