The United States will refund $154 million that was stolen by a Sony employee and converted to bitcoin.
- In May, a Sony Life Insurance Company employee in Tokyo stole $154 million.
- The funds were then converted to bitcoin, which is currently worth over $180 million.
WASHINGTON - The US Department of Justice announced Monday that it has taken steps to refund more than $154 million that was allegedly stolen from a Sony subsidiary and turned into bitcoin by one of the company's Japanese employees.
Rei Ishii, a Tokyo-based employee of Sony Life Insurance Business Ltd, allegedly misappropriated $154 million in May when the company attempted to transfer assets between accounts, according to a civil forfeiture lawsuit filed in San Diego on Monday.
The money was diverted to an account Ishii controlled at a bank in La Jolla, California, where he converted the proceeds into 3,879 bitcoin, worth more than $180 million today, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California.
The funds were seized on December 1 after an FBI investigation, it said.
FBI investigators were able to obtain the private key, which is comparable to a password, needed to access the bitcoin address with the help of Sony, Citibank, and Japanese law enforcement.
"All bitcoins linked to the heist have been recovered and saved in their entirety. In Japan, Ishii is facing criminal charges "According to the Justice Department.
Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman stated, "It is our objective to return the stolen money to the victim of this daring fraud, and today's action helps us do that."
"This case shows how FBI investigators and Japanese law enforcement worked together to trace down this virtual cash. Criminals should be aware that cryptocurrencies cannot be used to conceal ill-gotten gains from law enforcement."