December 11, 2023

Cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex has announced that it has recovered some of the assets stolen in the 2016 bitcoin hack, but said a significant amount has yet to be recovered.

The exchange said in a release that it has received the assets in question from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

tip of the iceberg

According to the announcement, the exchange revealed that it has successfully recovered $312,219 in cash and $6.9 in Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which is worth approximately $1,951 at today’s prices. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has returned the assets stolen during the 2016 hack. U.S. authorities took control of the funds in 2022 after arresting two individuals in connection with the Bitfinex hack. The exchange has been working with authorities to recover and return assets stolen during the hack to customers.

Bitfinex said in its blog post that the U.S. government is continuing to make progress in prosecuting individuals involved in the breach. U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized the recovered assets. The agency is the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Bitfinex CTO Paolo Ardoino thanked the authorities and said:

“We are very pleased to have achieved another successful milestone in the recovery of Bitfinex’s stolen assets in 2016. This specific seizure demonstrates the commitment of law enforcement officials to carefully trace all proceeds of the crime against Bitfinex nearly seven years ago. We look forward to making possible The stolen bitcoins have been recovered and redistributed to holders of tokens issued in response to the 2016 hack.”

Bitfinex hack

The Bitfinex hack was one of the largest in the cryptocurrency space at the time, as hackers managed to steal approximately 119,756 Bitcoin (BTC) from the exchange due to a security breach. At the time, the stolen assets were worth approximately $71.8 million. At current prices, however, they are worth a staggering $3.6 billion. Hackers have repeatedly transferred stolen cryptocurrencies to launder money.

However, U.S. authorities are tracking these assets and managed to apprehend the hackers in 2022. Elijah Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan are a married couple from New York. The pair were subsequently charged with conspiracy to launder money. The arrest also resulted in the seizure of most of the stolen funds, totaling approximately $3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin. Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said at the time,

“Today’s arrests, and the largest financial seizure ever made by the department, show that cryptocurrencies are not a safe haven for criminals. To maintain digital anonymity, defendants laundered stolen funds through a labyrinth of cryptocurrency transactions; as law enforcement With meticulous work, the department has shown once again that it can and will track funds no matter what form they take.”

Bitfinex also issued a statement expressing its gratitude for the recovery, adding:

“We are pleased that the DOJ has recovered most of the bitcoins stolen during the 2016 hack. We have been cooperating extensively with the DOJ since it began investigating this incident.”

Redeem stolen assets

Ardoino said that Bitfinex looks forward to recovering as much of the stolen assets as possible and redistributing them to holders of Recovery Rights Tokens (RRt) issued after the hack. These tokens are intended to act as IOUs that holders can later redeem for cash or iFinex equity. Currently, there are about 30 million RRT tokens in circulation, which means that the recovered amount is not enough to redeem all RRT tokens.

According to Bitfinex’s contractual obligations, RRT token holders will redeem for $1, after which up to 80% of the recovered assets will be paid to SED, UNUS and LEO token holders. According to Bitfinex, RRT token holders will redeem their tokens today, July 6, 2023, in proportion to the size of their RRT holdings.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It does not provide or be intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial or other advice.