Finland is selling off more than 1,800 confiscated Bitcoin and will donate some of the proceeds — said to be in the tens of millions — to help Ukraine fund its war against Russia, according to the country’s treasury minister.
Annika Saarikko detailed the “historic, collaborative decision” via Twitter on Wednesday evening, adding that there would be more in the country’s upcoming supplementary budget.
As outlined in an email statement shared with Bloomberg on Thursday, the Finnish government has 1,981 Bitcoin in its possession and is looking to auction off 1,890, worth almost $75 million.
Finland had been struggling with what to do with the snared Bitcoin amid concerns about money laundering and exactly what would happen to it once sold.
But now, according to the statement, the country has assigned two brokers, Coinmotion Oy and Tesseract Group Oy, to sell the coins, the majority of which were confiscated prior to 2018.
If and when the donations are made, Finland would become one of, if not the first, government to siphon crypto directly to Ukraine to help the war effort. Many other countries have been helping the embattled nation but most, like the US and UK, have done this by providing military equipment and weapons.
Indeed, on Thursday, UK foreign secretary Liz Truss stated the West must “double down” in its military support for Ukraine and said the 2% target defense spending outlined by Nato should be a “floor not a ceiling.” On the same day, Finland, along with Sweden, announced plans to submit Nato applications simultaneously as early as mid-May.
It’s worth noting, however, that the vast majority of Ethereum donations to Ukraine’s cause came at a time when the country was promising donors airdrop rewards in the form of potentially valuable NFTs or a new cryptocurrency.
After this offer was canceled, the donations duly dried up, suggesting that much of the apparent goodwill was actually more about turning a profit.
Ukraine wants crypto but would prefer Ukrainians didn’t buy it
Ukraine is obviously very keen to receive Bitcoin and crypto donations to fund its fight against Russia. But the country’s government isn’t so keen for its citizens to buy crypto themselves — at least not using Ukraine’s national fiat currency, Hryvnia.
Earlier this month, the government placed a temporary ban on Ukrainians buying crypto in order to stem the flow of money leaving the country.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s central bank noted that nearly $2 billion had been transferred.
The bank said the measures are designed to “prevent capital outflows and to reduce pressure on Ukraine’s foreign-currency reserves,” (via CoinDesk).
Billions in Bitcoin are going to auction
Finland isn’t the only country that has had to decide what to do with huge amounts of seized Bitcoin.
The US government regularly auctions off fortunes in seized crypto. Indeed, back in 2014, following the takedown of the illicit online marketplace Silk Road, the US sold off 30,000 Bitcoin for $19 million. This stash would be worth somewhere in the region of $1.2 billion today but the feds say they’re not interested in playing the markets.
France has also auctioned off large amounts of Bitcoin. Last year it sold more than 600 Bitcoin — worth $30 million at the time and nearly $24 million today — reclaimed following the GateHub trading platform hack.
And UK police made $370,000 selling off a convicted hacker’s hoard of Bitcoin, Ripple and Ether, which it reportedly invested back into “crime prevention efforts” in 2019.