The government of Canada has attempted to impose sanctions and blockades, but has yet to fully neutralize donations to the Freedom Convoy. So far, the authorities have managed to recover only 30% of the Bitcoins (BTC) donated to the group. According to blockchain data, the convoy received around 21 BTC in donations, or BRL 4.1 million at current exchange rates. However, the government of Canada seized only 6 BTC, or R$1.1 million. That is, only 26% of the funds managed to be blocked. As for the 74% of donated BTC, they were siphoned off in various ways. These deviations were crucial to prevent the authorities from being able to sanction these portfolios. Even so, the government still managed to freeze and impose sanctions on 34 addresses. So far, the Ottawa Police Service (OPS), the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are trying to recover the BTC donated to truck drivers. But observers say they have failed to prevent users from successfully embezzling funds.
“There is a huge limitation for freeze orders when they relate to cryptocurrency wallets. They can simply be transferred to another wallet address that is not frozen and then another and another. This serves to hide the sources and prevent tracking,” said Mathew Burgoyne, a lawyer specializing in digital currencies.
following the money
As the BTC blockchain is public and can be audited by anyone, wallet data is not difficult to verify. In this sense, the Canadian broadcaster CBC investigated all the movements of the addresses linked to the convoy. According to the blockchain research completed by CBC News, the wallet freeze order has indeed been issued. Then, hundreds of thousands of Canadian dollars worth of BTC were moved from the locked wallets. In an example analyzed by the CBC, a wallet containing three bitcoins (approximately BRL 600,000) was emptied within a few days. The same account received almost 15 bitcoins on Feb 16. The total was not moved all at once, but in small value transactions. According to the CBC, transactions of around BRL 700 (0.004 BTC at the time) were carried out. In another case, 14 BTC was split into 101 different addresses, each receiving 0.144 BTC. This pattern points to two possible outcomes. The first one is that the amount was divided among several smaller addresses in order to avoid blocking. With more addresses containing BTC, the chances of the government being able to block more funds decreases. Another possibility is that the money was distributed to the members of the convoy after the end of the campaign. Given that the values are low, it is likely that the funds have received this destination.
“I assume, although I cannot say, that this was in part a distribution of the portfolios. They (protest organizers) took a large wallet and moved their funds to hundreds of smaller wallets. Then they deliver the passwords from that smaller wallet to the final recipient,” said attorney Monique Jilesen.
Protests and blockades
The so-called Freedom Train occupied the streets of downtown Ottawa, the capital of Canada, for more than three weeks in February. They protested against the imposition of vaccine passports for trucks to cross the US border. According to the protesting truck drivers, the passports would cause travel delays, which would impact the final price. Furthermore, the measure would have no reason to exist, since 85% of Canadian truck drivers were already fully vaccinated. At the start of the blockade, truckers closed roads, bridges and most access to Ottawa. Under pressure, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act on February 14, a first in Canadian history. The act gave the government powers to, among other things, freeze the bank accounts of people who donated money to truck drivers. Faced with this threat, truck drivers and people turned to cryptocurrencies, especially BTC. Within days, BTC fundraising campaigns were set up across the country. In all cases, the protesters raised large sums of money within a few days. As a result, the government of Canada has invested against cryptocurrency wallets and exchanges, demanding that the funds be blocked. However, the companies refused to make this block and injure the freedom of their customers. Also read: Bitcoin Analysis: BTC remains above $41,000, now what? Read also: Thailand will ban cryptocurrency payments, but not investments