Chainalysis has discovered that many groups and individuals belonging to the American far-right have received large donations in bitcoin in the past month.
In particular, it emerged that on December 8th, 2020, i.e. a month before the attack on Capitol, an anonymous donor sent 28.15 BTC (about $522,000) to 22 different addresses in a single transaction. Many of these addresses belong to far-right activists.
Chainalysis also published a chart showing the recipients and amounts.
Most of the funds went to Nick Fuentes, an extremist podcaster and former youtuber, since YouTube blocked his channel in February of 2020. He received 13.5 BTC, or $250,000, in his personal public address. This is the single largest bitcoin donation he is known to have ever received, as his previous record was only $2,707.
Fuentes was one of the people present outside the Capitol during the January 6th riots, as were many other names on the list compiled by Chainalysis.
It is unclear whether this BTC donation is directly linked to the assault on Congress, but it is suspected that this attack was planned quite some time ago, as would appear from analysis of discussions on Parler in which a violent action was explicitly proposed.
It is also unclear who the anonymous donor was, but Chainalysis suspects a computer developer in France, who is now deceased. The analysis company does not reveal his name, but describes how they identified him.
How Bitcoin donations were traced
One of the most interesting things about this story is precisely the methodology used by Chainalysis to extrapolate this data from Bitcoin’s public blockchain, as it is only because all BTC on-chain transactions are public that it is possible to track their flows in this way. For example, if such donations had been made with cash dollars it would have been absolutely impossible to track them.
Chainalysis uses its own proprietary blockchain analysis software and a team of investigators, thanks to which it is able to analyse public transactions, and sometimes even to trace the names of the people involved.
Thanks to this transparency feature inherent in Bitcoin’s blockchain, law enforcement agencies could even track these transactions in real-time, and work with crypto platforms to try to prevent funds from actually being used by violent groups to fund their operations, for example.
In fact, Chainalysis said it has informed US government agencies of this transaction, and that some federal agencies are already investigating the case.