Who disputes ownership of the seized Bitcoins in the USA3 min read
The seizure of 94,000 BTC ($3.6 billion) related to the 2016 BitFinex attack completed two days. In this period, dozens of individuals began to claim part of the stolen value.
Money are still in the possession of the United States Department of Justice (DoJ). But no one yet knows who will be in possession of the recovered BTC. In the meantime, the DoJ has revealed plans to create lawsuits to return the stolen BTC.
The news generated a huge increase in the number of possession claims. According to David Silver, a lawyer specializing in cryptocurrency financial fraud, dozens of people have sought out his services in search of recovering funds.
However, who actually has the right to have possession of this money? On one side are BTC depositor users. On the other is Bitfinex, which claims to have already refunded part of the stolen funds. Know now the points of view of each side.
Bitfinex claims rights
Firstly, Bitfinex has also joined the long list of those claiming ownership of BTC. The exchange argues that users affected by the hacking attack have already been compensated.
After the attack, Bitfinex decided to socialize the losses from the attack. As a result, affected users have seen their balances reduced by up to 36% in order to offset the losses.
Simultaneously, the exchange created two tokens (RRT and LEO) that represented rights over the recovered BTC. These rights would be paid if the value stolen in the attack was recovered.
According to Bitfinex, there are currently around 30 million RRTs in circulation. Each token is dollar-backed at a 1 to 1 ratio. That is, the exchange has to refund $30 million just to RRT holders.
But, at the same time, the exchange also wants to recover BTC equivalent to the balances that have already been paid. In fact, Bitfinex issued a statement on Tuesday (8), shortly after the hackers were arrested, saying that it is going after its rights to the stolen BTC.
“Bitfinex will work with the DoJ and follow appropriate legal processes to establish our rights to receive stolen BTC,” the announcement said.
Affected users disagree
In contrast, customers who were harmed in the attack disagree. They established their opposition to Bitfinex and demanded the rights to the recovered funds.
Some of them accused the exchange of wanting to take advantage of the BTC appreciation over the past five years. After all, the stolen BTC was worth around $71 million at the time of the attack, but it is now worth over $4.5 billion.
In short, the exchange reportedly paid customers at a time of low price, with a utility token that gave rights to BTC. But now users want the real cryptocurrencies – whose value has skyrocketed by 9,073% since then
One such user is Alan Aronoff, a victim of the attack, who said he had about $50,000 to receive from Bitfinex. He demands to receive his BTC and stated that he will return the RRT tokens he received from the exchange.
“I think it’s ridiculous. This is my BTC they took from my multi-signature wallet. I would like my BTC back and they (Bitfinex) can get their token back. I will take my BTC, thank you very much.”
Who is entitled to the funds?
With many people looking to get the funds, the question remains: who will receive the billion dollar sum? For now, the funds will remain in the possession of the DoJ until a final decision is made. With this, the USA becomes, at least temporarily, the second country in the world with the largest amount of BTC in custody.
As attorney Kellen Dwyer explained, the legal processes surrounding the case are far from straightforward. A definitive resolution is likely to take months, even a few years.
“This process could really take a long time. It will certainly be several years before anyone sees any money,” she said.