The US Department of Justice said on Monday that it has filed a lawsuit in federal court to return more than $154 million in funds that were allegedly stolen from a Tokyo-based Sony subsidiary.
The amount was allegedly stolen by a Japanese official, who converted the amount into BTC.
Later, on December 1st of this year, the amounts were seized by police authorities. The arrest took place during the FBI’s investigation into the theft:
“The United States has filed a civil confiscation action in the Southern District of California to protect the interest of Sony, whose official allegedly misappropriated, in May 2021, and converted into more than 3,879 Bitcoins valued today at more than $180 million” , says the Justice Department press release
US seize Bitcoins to return to Sony
According to the lawsuit filed in San Diego, King Ishii, an employee of Sony Life Insurance Company Ltd. in Tokyo, allegedly embezzled the fortune when the company tried to transfer funds between its financial accounts.
He supposedly did this by faking transaction instructions. This caused the funds to be transferred to an account that Ishii controlled at a bank in La Jolla, California. So he quickly converted the funds to BTC.
Based on evidence uncovered during the FBI investigation, an arrest warrant was authorized in June 2021.
As the process highlights, it was possible to track BTC transfers and identify the amount converted into BTC.
The 3879.16 Bitcoins were transferred to a specific BTC address. Then Ishii moved the cryptocurrencies to an offline wallet.
Also according to the statement, with the help of Sony, Citibank and Japanese police, the FBI managed to obtain the “private key” to access the address.
Thus, he managed to recover all the Bitcoins related to the theft. For the alleged crime, Ishii was criminally charged in Japan.
“It is our intention to return the stolen money to the victim of this audacious theft. And today’s action helps us to do that,” Acting Attorney General Randy Grossman said. “This case is an example of the incredible work of FBI agents and Japanese police, who have teamed up to track down these cryptocurrencies.”
Grossman also said criminals cannot rely on cryptocurrencies to hide their ill-gotten gains.