Two Bulgarian officials have been arrested for accepting Bitcoin bribes as payment for issuing identity documents.
Having to deal with a government bureaucracy to get necessary paperwork completed is often a nightmare. Usually, there are long delays, conflicting instructions, and a lack of urgency from government workers. Such events occur even where there is no corruption to be found, but just imagine having to endure such a circumstance where palms need to be greased for the wheels of government to turn. Such is the case in Bulgaria where two government officials were arrested for soliciting Bitcoin bribes.
Bitcoin Bribe Needed for Approval
The two officials in question are managers with the National Agency for Bulgarian Citizens Abroad. Their purpose is to issue identity documents, but the managers cooked up a scheme to make quite a bit of money on the side.
Foreign nationals attempting to get identity papers for Bulgaria found it practically impossible to get the documents needed. Massive delays in getting the paperwork approved were the norm … unless a little bit of something extra was handed over to grease the wheels of government.
The two managers would solicit bribes that were payable in Bitcoin and making it quite clear to those filing that the needed approval would only happen if the bribe was paid. Prosecutors allege that the two managers were receiving anywhere from 5 to 15 bribes per week, going back to July 2017.
The two officials maintain their innocence, with their attorney stating:
There is no evidence that suggests either of the two accused individuals have received any funds.
The prosecution, naturally enough, says that they’re guilty. They point out one witness who has testified that they had given several bribes that were worth $5,700 each to the defendants. The prosecution also notes that law enforcement has confiscated several Bitcoin wallets.
When Government Workers Go Bad
Of course, this isn’t the first time those in government service found themselves in hot water over cryptocurrency. The solicitation of Bitcoin bribes is really rare as government workers are far more likely to get involved in some illicit crypto mining.
Back in March, an employee of the Florida Department of Citrus was arrested for using agency computers to mine Bitcoin and Litecoin. The employee racked up higher electricity bills along with using a state purchasing card to buy 24 GPUs worth over $22,000.
Two Crimean government employees were fined and ordered to pay restitution earlier this year for their part in illicit crypto mining on the job. They used up $1,000 worth of electricity (that the agency paid for) to gain about $260 in cryptocurrency.
After Venezuela began cracking down on Bitcoin miners, the government began to confiscate many mining rigs. Yet it turns out that law enforcement and government officials began using the mining rigs for their own gain.
The closure of the infamous Silk Road website by the U.S. government led to some officials behaving badly. One example is that of an ex-Secret Service agent extorting bitcoins worth $820,000 from the site’s founder. He was arrested the day before his planned departure from the country and was eventually sentenced to 71 months in jail.
What do you think about the Bulgarian officials soliciting Bitcoin bribes? Let us know in the comments below.
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