October 17, 2023

US Government Largest Holder of Bitcoin

US Government's BTC

US Government’s BTC

The United States government currently holds over 200,000 BTC, worth more than $5 billion in value, despite having sold a few thousand BTC for millions earlier this year.

A crypto firm called 21.co analyzed public filings and estimated that the US government still owns 194,188 BTC, which is valued at $5.3 billion. However, the firm clarified that these estimations are based on publicly available information and may be lower-bound.

The analysis was conducted to track the movement of Bitcoin belonging to the US government wallets associated with the three largest BTC seizures since 2020. These seizures include the Silk Road seizure of 69,369 BTC in November 2020, the Bitfinex Hack seizure of 94,643 BTC in January 2022, and the James Zhong seizure of 51,326 BTC in March 2022.

The government’s Bitcoin stash is primarily kept offline in encrypted storage devices called hardware wallets, which are kept under the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service. The US government made two significant seizures in 2022.

It’s important to note that the seized assets don’t immediately belong to the government. The US Marshals Service, which is the principal agency responsible for selling seized property, only takes possession of the seized Bitcoin after a court issues a definitive forfeiture judgment.

The US government sometimes auctions off some of the Bitcoin it seizes based on court liquidation orders. Notably, billionaire Tim Draper bought 30,000 BTC from the government in a 2014 auction. In recent years, the government has preferred to sell seized Bitcoin through cryptocurrency exchanges instead of public auctions. In March of this year, the government confirmed the sale of 9,118 BTC on Coinbase through a public filing.

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