The British High Court has issued a court order and seized nearly $1 million in bitcoin on Bitfinex.
The order was issued on December 13th, but the details were only released on January 17th and the news published only today.
It is a precautionary measure concerning a lawsuit against some hackers who allegedly had bitcoins sent to them as payment for a ransomware attack.
Unfortunately, this type of attacks is increasing, but in this case, the stolen bitcoins were intercepted on Bitfinex and then seized.
The sentence states that an English insurer, who asked to remain anonymous, accused four defendants of unlawfully stealing 96 bitcoins from him between October 10th and 11th, 2019. These BTC are believed to be held at a Bitfinex bitcoin address.
The ransomware attack had paralyzed the operation of a Canadian insurance company by exploiting a software bug and making more than 1,000 computers of the company unusable.
To unlock them, the hackers demanded $1.2 million in bitcoin, and eventually, the insurance company agreed to pay $950,000 in BTC in exchange for a tool to unlock compromised computers.
After receiving the tool to unlock, it took ten days to fully restore the insurance company’s systems, including 20 corporate servers.
Subsequently, the insurer decided to report the attack to the judicial authorities and hired a blockchain analysis company (Chainalysis) to track down the bitcoins paid as ransom.
The analysis revealed that some of them had been immediately exchanged for fiat currency, but most of them, 96 BTC, had been transferred to a Bitfinex address.
For this reason, the High Court had issued an order and seized the BTC from the exchange, which had explicitly requested a court order in order to proceed.
In addition, the judge also requested Bitfinex to provide all the information in its possession to identify the incriminated account holder and it did so, proving that bitcoin is not anonymous and that the rumour that it is used by criminals for illegal purposes is false. This last fact may be true but it is a misconception on the part of the criminals since BTC is traceable and not completely anonymous.