Late last year, Silk Road turned into a long lonely road for its founder Ross Ulbricht who was arrested in October 2013 for operating the anonymous market place and facilitating a free market for illicit trade.
At that time, the US government swiftly seized the website and entire operations of the company, and prosecuted Mr. Ulbricht, who was known online as Dread Pirate Roberts.
Whilst Silk Road’s existence has long since been consigned to a feint remnant of online history, the criminal convictions of those involved extend into the present, with Australia’s authorities having this week extradited 41 year old Queensland resident Peter Phillip Nash to the United States to stand trial for his alleged involvement in the enterprise.
Today, Reuters reported that a spokeswoman for the US Attorney General’s Department explained “I confirm that Peter Nash was surrendered to the United States pursuant to a request for his extradition.”
“The United States sought Mr Nash’s extradition for prosecution for conspiracy to traffic narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering” the spokesperson confirmed to Reuters.
Currently the US prosecutors have not set a date for Mr. Nash’s trial, however it is likely that if he has been extradited, the US has substantial evidence.
Ironically, the demise of Silk Road and the associated sullying of the reputation of anonymous online market places which use virtual currencies as a means of payment was one of the first incidents which set Bitcoin on the road toward becoming a widely accepted currency by venture capital funds, investors and regulators alike.
Following the demise, the U.S. Marshal Office sold 29,657 bitcoins in 10 blocks on June 27 2014, estimated to be worth $18 million at current rates, representing approximately a quarter of the seized bitcoins, in an online auction.
Another 144,342 bitcoins, roughly $87 million, found on Mr. Ulbricht’s computer, were retained by the US government. At that auction, an investor named Tim Draper bought the bitcoins for an estimated worth of $17 million at the auction, to lend them to a bitcoin start-up called Vaurum, which is working in developing economies of emerging markets.
This led to a series of venture capital investments in Bitcoin technology startups by mainstream investors, and to a number of national governments to recognize virtual currency as a viable financial instrument that can be developed through technological innovation, with Switzerland, Britain and the United States embracing it firmly.
Whilst Mr. Nash’s future hangs in the balance, the previously feared virtual currency’s future is somewhat more assured.