Finland's customs agency has $15M in seized bitcoin

Finland's customs agency, Tulli, has 1,666 bitcoins (currently worth over $15 million) in its possession.

The agency seized the bitcoins years ago in a major drug bust, but hasn't cashed it out yet, Finland's national public broadcasting firm Yle reported Tuesday. Tulli is concerned that if it sells the bitcoins, these could end up getting back in the hands of criminals.

The agency had plans in 2018 to auction it off but eventually canceled the idea due to the concerns.

"From our point of view, the problems are specifically related to the risk of money laundering. The buyers of [cryptocurrency] rarely use them for normal endeavours," Pekka Pylkkanen, finance director of Tulli, told Yle.

Market observers may disagree with Pylkkanen's claim. A November report from blockchain analytics firm Elliptic suggested that $829 million, just 0.5% of all transactions, were linked to the dark web.

If at all Tulli decides to sell off the bitcoins, the proceeds would go into the "state's bottomless treasury," said Pylkkanen.

Just last week, the U.S. Marshals Service auctioned off over 4,000 bitcoins (worth ~$39 million) to two winning bidders. The Marshals Service has held a series of bitcoin auctions since 2014.