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Chinese police have seized 194,774 Bitcoin (1% of Bitcoin’s total supply of 21 million BTC) worth over $3.2 Billion, in the latest operation against the infamous PlusToken scheme that defrauded investors of approximately $7.6 billion.
Additionally, Chinese authorities seized other crypto assets including 830,000 ETH, 1.4 million LTC, 487 million XRP, 213,000 USDT, 79,000 BCH, 27 million EOS, and 6 billion DOGE.
The ruling was made public by the Jiangsu Yancheng Intermediate People’s Court on November 19, giving the complete breakdown of total assets seized by the police.
The news comes four months after Chinese authorities arrested 27 key suspects deemed responsible for running the Ponzi scheme in China and South Korea. Prior to the arrest, six more people including the ring leader had been extradited back to China in July 2019.
PlusToken attracted over 2 million investors as a high-yield crypto investment for a $500 minimum deposit of crypto assets and especially targeted people most unfamiliar with crypto concepts and investments.
15 Individuals Have Been Convicted
A report by local media stated that the criminal case was first ruled on September 22 by the high court but the details remained undisclosed following several appeals to a higher level court by some of the convicted individuals.
The Yancheng Intermediate Peoples’ Court however denied the appeals and made the details of the case known to the public. So far, 15 people have been convicted and sentenced to serve jail terms of between 2 to 11 years and to pay fines ranging between $100,000 and $1 million.
As the biggest crypto-related Ponzi scheme prosecution case in China, PlusToken reportedly started in May 2018, according to Yancheng, a lower-level district court in China’s Jiangsu province-the first to rule on the case.
Chinese authorities are said to have been unaware of PlusToken or its magnitude until August 2019, when blockchain Security firm CipherTrace highlighted it on its theft and anti-money laundering report.
China Increased Its Digital Assets Reserved With Seized Assets
Apart from Bitcoin’s 1% supply, Seized ETH represents 0.73% of total ETH supply and seized DOGE 5% of its total supply.
According to the Block’s Director of Research Larry Cermak, the court said that the “seized digital currencies will be processed pursuant to laws and the proceeds and gains will be forfeited to the national treasury.”
However, the statement did not clarify how exactly the government plans to process the seized crypto assets.
Responses from Crypto Twitter have resulted in much speculation as to whether China will hold on to the assets or liquidate as is the case with most seized digital assets in the US.