Finland Set to Donate Bitcoin Seized from Criminals to Ukraine – Report
Finland’s government will reportedly donate bitcoin (BTC) seized in criminal operations to Ukraine, to support the latter’s war efforts against the Russian invasion.
Per the Finnish media outlet Helsingin Sanomat, the Finnish government has amassed BTC 1,981 (USD 78m). The coins have been seized by Finnish customs officials in “investigations related to” crimes such as “drugs and drug trafficking.”
The country’s courts have since ordered the transfer of the bitcoin in question to the state, which is now looking to trade the coins for cash.
But the sources did not rule out handing its stash of bitcoin “directly to Ukraine.”
The newspaper, one of Finland’s largest, claimed that its sources had stated that a decision on how much of the sale would be donated to Ukraine was still yet to be made. However, according to the same undisclosed sources, the decision to actively use the bitcoin holdings “to help Ukraine has already been taken.”
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that Finland has selected two brokers to sell BTC 1,890 during the spring and early summer.
Per Helsingin Sanomat, the matter had been discussed “earlier in the spring within the government,” with “confirmation also been sought” from the nation’s President Sauli Niinistö.
The matter will be discussed in the cabinet with a final and binding decision to be taken in May, the report claimed.
The government, the source added, is currently unsure on how to proceed, and has been concerned that a crypto donation of this size and nature would “look bad to outsiders,” noting:
“Certain sensitivities apply to cryptocurrencies, as they may be linked to crime. Also, it would be difficult for Finland to ensure that the bitcoin it donates does not end up funding criminal activity.”
But the decision to sell the tokens for fiat could also prove problematic. A government source was quoted as saying that the state was concerned that by selling the bitcoin for cash and then donating the fiat, the size of the proposed donation could end up shrinking – due to market price changes.
The Finnish government also has no legal mechanism that would allow it to make donations of this sort – a factor that would actually make a direct crypto donation simpler, the sources indicated. This is due to the fact that converting the tokens to cash and then donating this would involve additional bureaucratic and legal processes, the sources continued.
In the comments submitted by readers of the article, some questioned the government’s strategy, with one highly upvoted commenter suggesting that the state could instead sell the BTC for cash and use the money to buy weaponry from Finnish providers – thus benefiting both the Ukrainian war effort and the Finnish economy.
The move could well be echoed in Canada, where the Globe and Mail reported that Ottawa was set to “give itself the power to sell off assets of foreigners seized under sanctions law, and then turn them over to affected victims or pay for rebuilding war-torn countries” – meaning that it could funnel the money and assets seized from sanctioned Russians to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine following the war.
The move will, crucially, also see Canada’s government “expand the definition of assets that can be seized by sanction to include cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs),” the media outlet added.
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(Updated at 11:07 UTC with a report from Bloomberg.)