More than £1.2 million of Bitcoin seized from drug dealer

|News, Proceeds of crime

A drug dealer and money launderer who was using cryptocurrency to conceal his funds has had over £1.2 million worth of Bitcoins seized, restrained and then converted into British pounds in the first case of its kind.

Sergejs Teresko, 31, was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and drug offences in April 2017 after a cannabis factory was found at his home alongside a number of fake identification cards and large sums of cash.

Luxury goods including jewellery and Rolex watches, large sums of money, gold bars and expensive cars were also found at Teresko’s properties in Virginia Water and Cobham, both in Surrey.

As part of the investigation, evidence of a Bitcoin account was found at his home. Surrey Police seized the Bitcoins using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act and the CPS Proceeds of Crime team then successfully applied for a restraint order from the courts.

Teresko was later convicted of money laundering and drug offences at Kingston Crown Court where he was sentenced to nine years, three months in prison.

The CPS applied to have the restrained Bitcoins converted into pounds. The 295 Bitcoins were then sold by Surrey Police through an approved Bitcoin exchange. A total of £1,246,279.33 worth of Bitcoin was seized.

In total, Teresko was found to have made £2,058,613 from his crimes with an available amount of £1,447,935 to pay back. He was given three months to pay the order or would have to spend a further 10 years in prison.

Nick Price, of the CPS, said: “The CPS secured an order permitting the restrained Bitcoin to be converted into pounds, before a confiscation order was made – the first time the Proceeds of Crime Act has been used in this way.

“Our dedicated Proceeds of Crime team restrained the criminal proceeds at an early stage for the purposes of this confiscation order to ensure that Teresko’s crimes do not pay.”

Notes to editors

  • Nick Price is Head of the Proceeds of Crime team at the CPS.
  • Sergejs Teresko pleaded guilty on 6 October 2017 to one count of being knowingly concerned in the production of a controlled drug, one count of possessing criminal property, one count of possession of articles for use in frauds and six counts possession of an identity document with improper intention.
  • A restraint order is obtained in order to preserve a suspect/defendant’s assets until a confiscation order is paid in full. It can be obtained from the Crown Court at any time from the start of an investigation.

Further reading