The Hacker, Bitcoin, The Proceeds Of Crime Act And The Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act

In a legal first, a hacker has had bitcoin confiscated. Syedur Rahman of business crime solicitors Rahman Ravelli believes more such cases will follow.

A judge ordered the confiscation of bitcoin worth more than £900,000 from a jailed hacker in what was the first case of its kind for London's Metropolitan Police Service.

Grant West, 27, had about £1M-worth of the cryptocurrency seized from a number of accounts after his arrest in September 2017. But as the value of bitcoin fluctuated greatly after his arrest attempts to compensate victims proved complicated.

Proceedings in Southwark Crown Court were temporarily stalled as the order signed by West agreeing to the confiscation of the cryptocurrency related to a higher amount than that which was confiscated. Eventually announcing the order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, Joanna Korner QC said that West was to pay £915,305.77 in compensation - and would spend additional years in jail if he refused. He agreed to comply with the order.

Unlike fiat currencies - government-issued currencies not backed by a physical commodity with intrinsic value, such as gold or silver - there is no centralised exchange rate for bitcoin, which rose in value to almost £18,000 a bitcoin in December 2017 before falling below £7,000 in May 2018. The value of West's seized assets was calculated by authorities at a rate of about £8,500 per bitcoin.

In May 2018, West, of...

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