It is no secret that most countries were initially strict with cryptocurrencies and frowned against investment in them as they considered them a means of carrying out fraudulent activities. However, ten years since the inception of bitcoin, it is amazing to see how far we have come. While the number one spot of the top owners of bitcoin is occupied by Sathosi Nakamoto with about 1.1 million BTC, the number two spot is taken by the Bulgarian government with 213,519 Bitcoins.
It is interesting to know that the Bulgarian government did not at any time purchase any amount of bitcoin, however, the country holds more than 200,000 bitcoins next to Bitfinex, a crypto exchange with one of the largest stashes containing 163,133.38 BTC. Bulgaria’s journey to being the second holder of the largest stash of Bitcoins began in 2017. The Bulgarian law enforcement began a crackdown in May 2017 on organized crime and as a result, they were able to seize more than 200,000 bitcoins – an amount worth more than $1 billion at today’s prices.
In May 2017, 23 Bulgarian nationals were arrested by The Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) over an alleged customs fraud. The SELEC, a regional organization made up of 12 member states including Bulgaria announced that a total of 213,519 bitcoins were seized that month. According to the law enforcement agency, Bitcoin was seemingly a more attractive way of committing these frauds as it was a bit difficult track. They claimed that the offenders had created a virus with which they hacked the computers of the Bulgarian Customs. Aided by some corrupt government officials, the virus was uploaded to the machines and enabled the offenders to skip the payment of fees when transporting goods into the country.
Although the Bulgarian government had been able to successfully shut down the criminal operations, it is still not clear what they aim to do with the seized bitcoins. The Bulgarian government have, however, declined to comment on what it aims to with the Bitcoins. It clings to claims of ongoing investigations according to a report from Bivol.bg from Nov. 28. Unlike Bulgaria, the United States auctions off any amount of cryptocurrency it seizes.
However, Bulgaria still remains active in the cryptosphere with a number of crypto firms and exchanges operating in the country. The country is also an interesting destination for online businesses as the country offers the lowest corporate and personal income tax in the EU. In terms of taxation, Cryptocurrencies are however treated like other financial assets therefore, any profits realised from crypto transactions will be subject to a 10% tax. Bulgaria is not just holding the second largest stash of BTC, the country still strives to create a strategy for boosting crypto businesses in the country. So if you are interested in starting a crypto related business in the country, you require no special licence.
Do you think Bulgaria should auction off their bitcoin or hold on to it? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!