An Irish court has approved the seizure of $36K in Ethereum from a convicted criminal despite claims of a breach of the criminal’s rights.
A person convicted of a serious crime finds themselves losing their liberty as they are carted off to jail. However, such individuals still retain their basic rights under the law. One inmate in Ireland feels that the court system has violated his rights as the country’s High Court has approved the seizure of roughly $36,000 in Ethereum from his cryptocurrency wallet.
Court Seizes Ethereum
The convicted criminal in question is Neil Mannion, who is currently serving a 6½-year sentence for distributing drugs. Mannion admitted that he and another person possessed LSD, cannabis resin, and amphetamines with an intent to sell back in 2014. He also admitted to using an alias, the Hulkster, to sell on sites found on the dark web like the Silk Road and Agora.
These charges came about after law enforcement searched his residence under the auspices of a search warrant. Mannion was sentenced in 2015.
As part of the investigation, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) claimed that funds found in Mannion’s bank accounts, credit cards, and in bitcoins had been the result of his criminal activities. They made proceedings against such assets after his arrest and settled them in February 2016.
However, the CAB was not done with Mannion yet. After all the dust from the previous legal proceedings had settled, they found an online wallet that contained around 2,000 Ethereum via a later search of his computers. It should be noted that the ETH was not part of any of the previous legal actions. In July 2016, the Criminal Assets Bureau decided to go after and seize the ETH.
Breach of Rights?
When the CAB started a new action to snag his Ethereum, Mannion argued that their search was invalid and that his rights had been breached. He said that the computers that offered up the ETH were accessed after the original criminal prosecution had ended. He further argued that he had consented to allow law enforcement to search his computers during the initial investigation but that he did not give consent to an indefinite search.
Ms. Justice Carmel Steward of the High Court then made an interesting decision. She ruled against Mannion, saying that his legal rights were not breached and that the investigators acted with due diligence in regard to their legal obligations.
However, the judge also said that the case “broke new legal ground” and that the arguments made by Mannion had some merit. She noted that a good chunk of the state’s probe into the Ethereum was potentially undermined by the complex intricacies in dealing with cryptocurrency exchanges and data privacy rights. Yet she felt that these concerns did not reach the threshold of Mannion having his rights violated. Future cases could see such a breach occur, she concluded.
One could be cynical and say that the state looking to snag $36,000 in ETH would find a way to justify seizing the coins. It’s a complicated case as it falls upon how long the state can use their powers to sift back through evidence even after a criminal case had been concluded and no new charges are being brought.
Do you think Mannion was right and that his rights were violated? Or was law enforcement right in going after cryptocurrency they considered to be the profits of criminal enterprise? Let us know in the comments below.
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