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Lonely Christmas

We started the new year with our 185th case since the launch in 2012. A high-profile case. In the week before Christmas the court convicted a detained accused for laundering nearly half a million euros.  He was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 20 months and the court ordered the confiscation of laptops among other things, and ordered that income obtained from crime should be taken from him.  The term of imprisonment was partly suspended on account of the person’s ill- health, but he would not be able to spend Christmas with his family.  

The investigation started in 2016 in response to an analysis of FIU-Netherlands of disclosures of unusual transactions, which had come from several organizations. Eventually, the total amount involved appeared to be 1.4 million euros. Analysis showed that several persons were involved in the transactions, but one of them, the convicted person, had the key role.

The disclosures concerned funds transfers, bitcoin transactions, cash payments and money transfers. The man was involved in questionable bitcoin exchange practices. He appeared to advertise on a website for bitcoin users where he promised to observe high discretion in purchasing bitcoins. In other words, there would not be any awkward questions about the origins of the bitcoins and about the identity of the person offering them, which are exactly the questions that bona fide bitcoin-exchange offices would ask.

Despite the arguments of the suspect and his lawyer, the court was clear on what they accused the man of and gave a detailed judgment. The Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service team (FIOD team) conducting the investigation had called in the help of the digital forensics to investigate the history of the purchased bitcoins. Block chain analysis showed that the exchanged bitcoins originated directly or practically directly from trading transactions on the dark web, which is known for trading in usually illegal products. For his exchange activities the suspect also used bank accounts of two of his girlfriends in an attempt to stay under the radar.

The court also ordered the confiscation of benefit the suspect had obtained by means of or from the proceeds of his laundering practices. The defence put forward by the lawyer failed and the court decided that the amount of 142,000 euros obtained from the proceeds of crime had to be repaid.