A German programmer who is accused of running an illegal movie streaming site more than a decade ago transferred $2.17 billion worth of Bitcoin to the authorities to repay at least some of the money he had made illegally, the police said on Tuesday. The transfer required the man to use his unique Bitcoin credentials to hand over the funds.
“This is the most extensive seizure of Bitcoins by law enforcement in the Federal Republic of Germany to date,” said Kay Anders, a spokesman for the Saxony state police. The money will remain in the authorities’ Bitcoin account until a court can figure out what to do with it, Mr. Anders added.
The man, identified only as a 40-year-old German citizen, and his business partner are under investigation on allegations that they ran what was once the country’s most successful illegal video-sharing site.
In its heyday, from 2008 to 2013, the site, movie2k.to, had tens of thousands of movies in a host of languages available for download. Users from around the world visited the site, making it among the 25 most-visited websites in Germany, according to news reports at the time. After the authorities shut it down in 2013, several sites with similar names opened to fill the void.
In the five years that movie2k.to was active, it allowed users to illegally download nearly 880,000 copies of films, the authorities said.
The police said the programmer had taken the profits from the site and invested it in Bitcoin, which soared to a value of more than 40,000 euros per coin.