Recent data from Arkham, a renowned cryptocurrency analytics firm, indicates that several governments around the world hold substantial amounts of Bitcoin, totaling approximately $17.8 billion at current market prices. This significant volume is due to both seizures in criminal operations and strategic acquisitions by nations such as El Salvador.

In the United States, the government holds approximately $12 billion. It is estimated that most of these funds were obtained through seizures in high-profile cases, such as the 2013 Silk Road operation and other initiatives targeting illegal online marketplaces.

In one of the largest feats to date, in 2020, the US Department of Justice seized over $1 billion worth of Bitcoin related to the same operation. Traditionally, the United States holds auctions to sell seized Bitcoins, under the supervision of the US Marshals Service, but reports indicate a recent shift toward more discreet sales in the Over-the-Counter (OTC) market.

In the UK, the situation is similar, with the government holding around $3.3 billion in Bitcoin. The Metropolitan Police seized approximately $250 million worth of cryptocurrency in 2021, in one of the largest anti-money laundering operations. Although HMRC has previously held auctions of seized cryptocurrencies, little information is available about future sales or auctions, keeping the UK’s strategy shrouded in mystery.

In Germany, current reserves are valued at around $2.2 billion. In February 2024, it was announced that around €1 billion worth of seized cryptocurrencies would be sold, marking a departure from the previous policy of holding the assets. These sales, planned to be carried out gradually through OTC transactions, minimize the impact on the market, demonstrating a pragmatic and careful approach.

Unlike other countries, El Salvador has embraced Bitcoin as part of its national economic strategy. Since declaring the cryptocurrency legal tender in 2021, the country has accumulated approximately $314 million in Bitcoin through direct purchases and mining operations. El Salvador’s strategy, led by President Nayib Bukele, stands out for not being the result of seizures, but rather a deliberate investment in financial technology.


The views and opinions expressed by the author, or any person mentioned in this article, are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice. Investing in or trading cryptocurrencies carries a risk of financial loss.


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