Toronto judge orders drug dealer to forfeit $1.9 million Bitcoin
A Toronto judge has ordered convicted drug dealer, Matthew Phan, to surrender nearly all of the 288 Bitcoins seized from his computer.
Worth $88,000 at the time, Phan’s stash of Bitcoin was worth over $7 million at its peak.
Superior Court Justice, Jane Kelly, ordered that 281.41 Bitcoins be forfeited to the Ministry of the Attorney General after hearing expert evidence earlier this year that Matthew Phan, 30, used them to buy a gun and illegal narcotics on the dark web.
Phan pleaded guilty in December of last year to attempting to import a gun and possessing cocaine, PCP and ketamine for the purposes of trafficking.
At the forfeiture hearing this year, crown attorney, Erin Pancer, argued that given clear evidence Phan used Bitcoin to finance his illegal activities, the court should be satisfied the amount found on his computer should be considered proceeds of crime.
Phan, who fought the forfeiture, argued not all of the Bitcoins were used for nefarious purposes and that some were used to buy and sell gold. As well, he claimed he was selling the cryptocurrency itself on various exchanges.
Justice Kelly said that although she agreed Phan was trading Bitcoin for a time, however she rejected Phan’s evidence that there was a “legitimate explanation” for the large amount of Bitcoin found.
Justice Kelly said: “There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that Mr. Phan was using the dark markets to purchase illegal items such as firearms and silencers. It is clear from the evidence found during searches, particularly of his condominium unit, that he was conducting a large sales operation of illegal narcotics.
“It is a reasonable inference to draw that payment for such illegal narcotics sales was made using Bitcoin that was found in the digital wallet on Mr. Phan’s computer.”