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Force makes groundbreaking Bitcoin seizure


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Proceeds of Crime Act ruling aids force's finances.

Serejgs Teresko

Serejgs Teresko


A force seized and converted ill-gotten cryptocurrency into sterling.

Seregjs Teresko, 31, was charged with money laundering and drugs offences in April 2017 after a search at his home unveiled Bitcoin activity.

Surrey Police's Economic Crime Unit (ECU) seized 295 Bitcoins under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and converted them to the value of £1,246,279.33, some £273,000 of which was retained by the force.

In April 2017 the force received reports of a kidnap in Virginia Water after members of the public saw a man being bundled into a car and a woman calling to say she believed her partner was in danger. 

Attending an address, officers found a large and sophisticated cannabis factory, linking Teresko to his home address where officers found and seized cash amounts of £220,575.02, €30,075 and 14,040 Thai baht.

Considering the suspicious amount of cash at his home and suspected links to the cannabis factory, he was arrested and charged.

After the arrest, officers carried out a more detailed search of Teresko’s home and a number of bank and credit cards in multiple names, counterfeit European identity cards and luxury goods were seized.

Officers also made a crucial discovery of a large amount of electronic equipment, including a cryptocurrency wallet, which contained the 64-character private key in order to access the account.

The account contained 295 Bitcoins which were moved into a wallet controlled by Surrey Police following a successful application at Magistrates Court under POCA.

Shortly after, an application by the CPS was made to grant legal permission to keep and convert the Bitcoins.

A successful confiscation hearing on Thursday found that Teresko had benefited from his criminal activity in the sum of £2,058,612.65, the Court ruled that he must forfeit £1,447,935.70 and also pay an additional £13,150 within three months.

In October 2017 Teresko pleaded guilty to money laundering, cultivation of cannabis and the possession/control of articles for use in fraud at Kingston Crown Court. He was sentenced to nine years and three months imprisonment.

Detective Inspector Matthew Durkin, of the Economic Crime Unit, said: “It appears Teresko was a member of an organised crime group and Bitcoin was one of the methods he chose to launder criminal assets.

“This is a ground-breaking, innovative achievement and we are very pleased to be the first UK police force to have achieved this.

“We were working in unchartered territory and the support of SEROCU, CPS and the National Crime Agency has enabled us to set a precedent and pave the way for future cases in Surrey and across the country.

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