$17.8 Billion Bitcoin Is Still Sitting in These Government Wallets: Arkham

Data from crypto analytics firm Arkham has revealed that several governments are holding significant amounts of Bitcoin, totaling approximately $17.8 billion at current market prices.

Arkham has highlighted substantial holdings of Bitcoin seized by the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany as a result of criminal cases, while El Salvador has made significant purchases of Bitcoin for its treasury.

United States: $12 billion in Bitcoin reserves

The United States government holds the largest share of Bitcoin, with an estimated $12 billion worth of Bitcoin in its possession.

Much of this cryptocurrency is believed to have been seized in high-profile cases such as the 2013 Silk Road bust and subsequent operations targeting darknet markets.

In 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice seized over $1 billion in Bitcoin related to Silk Road, marking one of the largest cryptocurrency forfeitures in history.

The U.S. has traditionally used auctions to sell seized Bitcoin, with the U.S. Marshals Service overseeing several such events since 2014.

However, recent reports suggest a shift towards more market-based approaches, including over-the-counter (OTC) sales.

The timeline for future sales remains unclear, with the government typically not announcing its plans in advance to prevent market manipulation.

United Kingdom: $3.3 billion Bitcoin holdings

The United Kingdom government holds approximately $3.3 billion worth of Bitcoin, according to Arkham’s analysis.

A significant portion of this may be attributed to various law enforcement operations.

In 2021, the Metropolitan Police reported seizing £180 million (around $250 million at the time) in cryptocurrency as part of a money laundering investigation.

While the UK has been less vocal about its plans for these digital assets, the country’s tax authority, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), has previously auctioned seized cryptocurrency.

The latest information on potential sales or auctions of this substantial Bitcoin holding remains limited, leaving market observers speculating on the UK’s long-term strategy for these assets.

Germany: $2.2 billion in Bitcoin reserves

Germany’s Bitcoin holdings, valued at approximately $2.2 billion, have recently made headlines.

In February 2024, German authorities announced plans to sell around €1 billion ($1.08 billion) worth of seized cryptocurrency, primarily Bitcoin.

This decision marked a significant shift from their previous approach of holding onto confiscated digital assets.

The German government has opted for a gradual selling strategy through over-the-counter (OTC) trades to minimize market impact.

This move represents one of the largest government liquidations of cryptocurrency to date and is being closely watched by market participants and other governments holding seized digital assets.

El Salvador: $314 Million in Bitcoin Treasury

While not resulting from seizures, El Salvador’s $314 million Bitcoin holdings are noteworthy.

Unlike the other countries, El Salvador’s Bitcoin treasury is part of a national strategy initiated by President Nayib Bukele.

The country became the first to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in 2021 and has since accumulated its holdings through direct purchases and mining operations.

El Salvador’s approach differs significantly from the other governments, as it represents a strategic investment rather than seized assets.

The country has maintained its Bitcoin position despite market fluctuations, with Bukele occasionally announcing new purchases on social media platforms.

As governments continue to navigate the complexities of holding and potentially liquidating large amounts of Bitcoin, their decisions will likely have significant ramifications for cryptocurrency markets and regulatory frameworks worldwide.

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