The US Justice Department (DoJ) recently seized almost 95,000 stolen Bitcoin worth approximately 3.6 billion dollars. The coins stem back to the 2016 hack of major crypto exchange BitFinex, a theft that has gone unsolved until now.
In a bizarre tale of events, the authorities happened to discover the stolen Bitcoin when large portions of it were consolidated in a wallet without any privacy protections. The wallet led them to a New York couple, tech entrepreneur Ilya Lichtenstein and his wife Heather Morgan, a social engineering expert by day and comedic rapper by night. According to court documents, the couple are not being charged with conducting the 2016 hack but rather for attempting to launder the stolen Bitcoin, presumably for a yet unnamed third party.
After news of the arrest surfaced, videos of Morgan’s rap alter-ego ‘Razzlekhan‘ began circulating on social media, leaving many to question how this person could be involved in the largest crypto hack of all time. Naturally, the case has brought about more questions than answers within the crypto community and given rise to several conspiracy theories, some more believable than others.
The Million Dollar Question
One of the biggest questions that people are asking – particularly those that held Bitcoin on the BitFinex exchange in 2016 – is, who gets the money?
BitFinex technically reimbursed the users affected by the 2016 hack with a tokenization program that promised payout should the funds ever be recovered. However, while those tokens remain the same value, the Bitcoin is worth many thousands of times more now. Some users, seeing what their Bitcoin would be worth today, feel they deserve their equal amount of Bitcoin returned.
However, none of that will matter if the DoJ decides to keep the Bitcoin rather than return it to BitFinex. For the past few years, BitFinex parent company iFinex has been under investigation by the New York Attorney General for alleged manipulation using its own stablecoin, Tether. Considering the high-profile case is ongoing along with potential outstanding fines for non-compliance with KYC procedures, it’s unlikely the DoJ will simply hand the coins back.
All we know for sure is so long as the US Government hangs onto the coins, it remains one of the biggest Bitcoin whales in the world.