British Couple Ordered to Pay Back $2.5M in Illegal Bitcoin Gains 

Leicester Crown Court has ordered the confiscation of Bitcoin and other financial gains worth about £2 million ($2,533,750) from a couple who have been leveraging the cryptocurrency to buy and sell illicit substances. 

According to a press release by Leicester police today, the couple who pleaded guilty to several counts of drug trafficking and money laundering was asked to pay back their gains under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

The husband, Paul Johnson, 32, had pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges of Class A and B drugs and five counts of money laundering, which saw him sentenced to eight years of jail term, with four years out of his jail term to be served on license.

On the other hand, his wife, Lia Johnson, 28, who also pled guilty at an earlier hearing to four counts of money laundering, bagged two years custodial jail term.

During a raid at their apartment on Northampton Road, Market Harborough, several items were recovered, including Paul’s laptop, a hardware wallet containing 22.7 BTC ($221,157), and illicit drugs worth £7,000 ($8,868.12). 

The couple believed to have benefitted a whopping £2 million ($2,533,750) and £143,000 ($181,180), respectively, was ordered to pay back a total of £1,975,000 ($2,502,404).

In addition, several assets belonging to the couple were also seized to enable the state to recoup the money.  

Pay up Or bag additional jail term

Commenting on the case, Paul Wenlock, head of the force’s economic crime unit, said that it is evident that the couple benefitted financially from the crimes committed by Paul, which prompted the court to slam the couple with the confiscation order. 

“If the order is not satisfied, then potentially Paul Johnson will serve a further ten years in default, and Lia Johnson will serve two years in default,” he added. 

Wenlock further stated that funds and assets recovered under confiscation orders are usually submitted to the Home Office, with a percentage given to the Police Force and the Criminal Justice System, while a larger proportion is used to compensate victims of the crime. 

This is not the first time bad actors have leveraged cryptocurrencies to conduct illicit activities. Coinfomania reported a United States woman was indicted for allegedly trading illegal drugs in the U.S through the dark web for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.