The United States government has quietly amassed one of the most substantial Bitcoin reserves globally, with over 200,000 BTC valued at more than $5 billion, despite selling a portion of its holdings earlier this year, according to data analysis by crypto firm 21.co. The estimated $5 billion figure is derived from public records, though the actual holdings may be even larger.
21.co’s analysis revealed that the U.S. government is believed to still possess approximately 194,188 BTC, an estimate valued at $5.3 billion. The firm emphasized that these estimates represent the lower bounds of the government’s Bitcoin holdings, based on publicly accessible information.
This analysis tracked the movement of Bitcoin in U.S. government wallets associated with the three most substantial BTC seizures since 2020: the Silk Road seizure in November 2020 (69,369 BTC), the Bitfinex Hack seizure in January 2022 (94,643 BTC), and the James Zhong seizure in March 2022 (51,326 BTC).
The U.S. government has prudently safeguarded its Bitcoin holdings in offline encrypted storage devices, commonly referred to as hardware wallets, which are secured within the confines of the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service.
It’s worth noting that seized assets do not immediately become government property. The U.S. Marshals Service, the agency responsible for selling confiscated assets, only takes possession of seized Bitcoin following a court-issued definitive forfeiture judgment.
In recent years, the U.S. government has adopted a practice of selling some of its seized Bitcoin through cryptocurrency exchanges rather than public auctions. An illustrative example of this occurred in March of the current year when the government sold 9,118 BTC via Coinbase, a transaction confirmed through public records.
This substantial accumulation of Bitcoin by the U.S. government underscores the evolving role of cryptocurrencies in the global financial landscape and their increasing relevance to governments and law enforcement agencies.