Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. authorities are apparently renewing investigations into Bitcoin businesses and any potential connections to criminal activity.
Specifically, renewed interest has surfaced in who else may have been connected to Silk Road, the shuttered online narcotics marketplace which only accepted bitcoins and whose founder was arrested last October for a slew of charges.
Someone familiar with the investigations said that they are still in their early stages and no direct connections have been drawn as of yet.
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The only major connection alleged to date has been Charlie Shrem, founder of now shuttered BitInstant, who was arrested on charges of money laundering in January. Prosecutors allege that he conspired to help Silk Road users exchange between dollars and bitcoins.
According to court documents, e-mails sent by Shrem confirm such suspicions. In one sent in April 2012, Shrem wrote, “[Silk Road] funds a decent percentage of the overall Bitcoin economy.” In February of that year, he reportedly wrote, “wow, Silk Road actually works” when commenting on receipt of a shipment of marijuana brownies.
Several months ago, bitcoin exchanges were reportedly subpoenaed by prosecutors from the Manhattan Federal Court as part of another round of investigations. The exact nature and extent of these investigations is still unclear.