NFTs seized by police for the first time ever in Belgium

NFTs seized by police for the first time ever in Belgium
Credit: Helen Lyons/ The Brussels Times

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were seized by the East Flanders Federal Criminal Police (FGP) during house searches last month, marking the first time this has ever happened in Belgium.

During two house searches on 18 May 2022 in the context of a money laundering case, the police seized a large quantity of silver and gold coins worth approximately €346,000, as well as cryptocurrency worth around €175,000. NFTs worth €26,000 were also seized.

FGP East Flanders said in a statement that it aims to ensure that crime does not pay and that this means they focus their investigations both on tangible assets such as cash, gold, expensive cars, as well as money, but also on digital assets such as crypto money (bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) and NFTs, of which the market is largely unregulated.

NFT ownership

NFTs or "non-fungible tokens" are tokens that prove someone's ownership of a unique item of data, and can range from a digital work of art to other collectables — the very first tweet from Twitter founder Jack Dorsey was sold as an NFT for over $2.9 million — with the ownership being recorded in a blockchain.

This allows the buyer to claim it as the owner and allows them to transfer it as part of a trade or sell it off. This is presumably also how the police can seize NFTs, however, this could not be confirmed by the police, as this information cannot be shared.

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All assets that were seized by the police are transferred to the COIV (Central Office for Seizure and Forfeiture), which is responsible for the further processing to the benefit of the State Treasury, according to the police statement.

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