It is being reported by DutchNews.nl (via Trouw) that the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (also known as Openbaar Ministerie) now has the authority to seize virtual currencies like bitcoin from criminals and hold it in their own wallets. They can also take the digital currency belonging to a suspect as part of an ongoing investigation.
Of course, there are the ‘bad guys’ who think bitcoin and digital currencies are a great way to store money because these transactions can be difficult to trace, but that’s apparently not the case here.
Trouw (paywall) states that while it’s legally more difficult to seize virtual assets, recent court rulings have made it easier for authorities to do so when required. In fact, three courts have ruled that bitcoin and digital currency could be considered as objects, and they most certainly can be seized.
“‘If you want to confiscate something, it has to be an actual object,” said Roy Appels, who heads the sequestration department at Openbaar Ministerie.
Interestingly enough, DutchNews.nl reports that one the bitcoins have been confiscated by authorities, they are to be immediately converted to the local fiat currency. Several hundred thousand euros worth of the digital currency have been confiscated.
It’s not too interesting of a development (more expected than anything else, given that authorities can confiscate other items as part of investigations like cars, for example), but it does give law enforcement more opportunity.
Of course, no telling what the process is like if the criminal used a multi-signature wallet.