Biden Administration Wants To Make It Easier To Seize Bitcoin Without Criminal Charges

Buried deep in a 61-page recent report by the U.S. Attorney General, the Biden Administration called for a dramatic expansion in the federal government’s ability to seize and keep cryptocurrency. If enacted, the proposed changes would bolster both criminal forfeiture, which requires a conviction to permanently confiscate property, as well as civil forfeiture, which doesn’t require a conviction or even criminal charges to be filed.Notably, the report’s release was coupled with the announcement of a new Digital Asset Coordinator Network. This nationwide network is staffed with more than 150 federal prosecutors who will be trained on “drafting civil and criminal forfeiture actions.”Since fiscal 2014, the FBI, Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations have collectively seized almost $680 million worth of crypto (valued at the time of seizure), with hundreds of still active investigations involving digital assets.Under “administrative” or “nonjudicial” forfeiture, the seizing agency—not a judge—decides whether a property should be forfeited. The federal government can use administrative forfeiture to take almost anything, aside from real estate and property valued at more than $500,000.That $500,000 limit currently applies to cryptocurrency, but the Attorney General wants to “lift the $500,000 cap for cryptocurrency and other digital assets.” Even if Congress refuses to act, thanks to a law enacted last year, the Secretary of the Treasury could simply end the cap by adopting new regulation.

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