Lithuanian Law Enforcement Official Warns Terrorists Could Fund Activities With Bitcoin

Journalist:
Lester Coleman
January 26, 2016

The director of Lithuania’s Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) warned that terrorists could use bitcoin to fund their activities in the future, according to delfi.lt, a Lithuanian news site.

The director, Kestutis Jucevicius, said at a press conference in Vilnius that bitcoin can potentially benefit groups involved in trafficking arms, human beings and drugs.

This announcement followed the recent arrest of a Lithuanian citizen believed to be part of a group that laundered bitcoin from the sales of drugs and weapons.

Lithuanian Part Of Crime Ring

A Lithuanian citizen was among 10 people arrested suspected of using bitcoins to “wash” about 20 million Euros (approximately $21.8 million) from selling weapons and drug on the Dark Web.

The Dutch Tax and Customs Service (CIOD) organized the international operation which included the FNTT. The investigation found drugs and weapons being traded on the Dark Web.

In Dark Web transactions, traders redeem virtual currency for cash.

The Lithuanian citizen is an exchange student studying economics. Dutch law enforcement identified this person as one of the most important in the group.

The FIOD raided 15 different locations in the Netherlands in a coordinated operation. The prosecution revealed the seizure of cash, luxury cars, bank accounts and 15 kilograms of ingredients for the manufacture of Ecstasy, CCN previously reported. Altogether, over 250 law enforcement officials participated in the raids.

The suspects, reportedly of Dutch, Moroccan and Lithuanian nationality and in their 20s, are seen as facilitators to drug dealers operating on the Dark Web who launder bitcoins into money.

Also read: Bitcoin tumbling: For privacy advocates or money launderers?

The Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) was tipped off by an unnamed bank when large sums of euros were deposited in a suspect’s account and was quickly withdrawn through ATMs on the same day.

The FIOD money laundering team was working on the investigation for at least two years when the tip from the bank came in.

Law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and Australia have also seized bitcoin wallets belonging to the gang of money launderers, through rogatory letters.

Bitcoin – An Unlikely Means to Funding Terrorism

While the Director provided his thoughts in the matter of bitcoin possibly being used for terrorism, the UK government’s Treasury Department report [PDF] noted that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are not a very likely funding tool for criminality.

An excerpt from the report read:

There was little evidence to indicate use by established money laundering specialists or that digital currencies played a role in terrorist financing.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

Last modified (UTC): January 26, 2016 23:38

Tags: Terrorism
Lester Coleman

Lester Coleman is a media relations consultant for the payments and automated retailing industries.