US Files Civil Action To Return $150 Million Embezzled Funds To Sony

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On Monday, the United States filed a civil forfeiture complaint to return over $150 million to a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corp after the funds were allegedly stolen then seized by law enforcement during the FBI’s investigation of the incident. 

Back in May, an employee of Sony Life Insurance Company Ltd in Tokyo allegedly embezzled the property  then converted it to over 3,879 bitcoins now valued at more than $180 million, according to the US Justice Department’s statement. 

On Dec 1, the funds were seized by law enforcement based on the FBI’s investigation. 

The employee, Rei Ishii, allegedly falsified transaction instructions which led the funds to be transferred to an account he controlled at a bank in California. The funds were then converted into bitcoin, according to the complaint filed in federal court in the Southern District of California. 

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The US Justice Department said that “all the bitcoins traceable to the theft have been recovered” and that Ishii has been criminally charged in Japan.

Meanwhile, acting US attorney Randy Grossman said, It is our intent to return the stolen money to the victim of this audacious theft, and today’s action helps us do that.”

This case is an example of amazing work by FBI agents and Japanese law enforcement, who teamed up to track this virtual cash. Criminals should take note: You cannot rely on cryptocurrency to hide your ill-gotten gains from law enforcement.