Japanese police have seized cryptocurrency belonging to a man with unpaid parking fines. The police explain that the revised fund settlement law enacted in April last year allows cryptocurrency to be seized like any other asset.
Crypto Seized for Parking Violations
The Hyogo Prefectural Police traffic guidance division announced this week that it had seized cryptocurrency owned by a 59-year-old resident with multiple delinquent parking violation charges, local media reported. Hyogo is a prefecture in the Kansai region of the country’s main island, Honshu. Kobe, located west of Osaka and Kyoto, is the capital of the prefecture.
The Kobe Shimbun reported that about 5,000 yen (~US$44) worth of cryptocurrency was seized but the police did not reveal which crypto. Nikkei, on the other hand, reported that “there were 2 kinds” of cryptocurrencies “such as bitcoin deposited with an exchange that were seized.” The news outlet elaborated:
According to the prefectural police traffic guidance division, it is the first time in the country to seize virtual currency in relation to parking violations.
However, the crypto seized from the man’s account at an exchange currently does not cover the total amount owed to the cops. According to the Kobe Shimbun, he has failed to pay a total of 99,700 yen (~$885) in violation charges including four parking tickets issued between January 2014 and July 2016.
The news outlet further detailed that if payment is not received by the end of this month, which is the deadline for claiming seized property, the cryptocurrency will be cashed out at the current rate and paid to the prefectural police.
Crypto is Asset that Can be Seized
The man’s parking violations are considered “unattended vehicle.” The Kyoto Prefectural Police explained that the term means “a vehicle that is illegally parked, with its driver away from the car, and which cannot be started immediately. This is regardless of the length of parking time, or whether the vehicle engine is turned on or off, or whether the emergency flashing lights on or off.”
Usually, “Land, houses, automobiles, bank savings, salary, and life insurance payouts could be seized, based on the decision of the Public Safety Commission,” the police clarified.
However, in the case of the 59-year-old, the Hyogo Prefectural Police “did not know his place of work and [he] had no cash deposits or savings,” the publication conveyed. Citing that the revised fund settlement act that legalizes cryptocurrency as a means of payment enables the police to seize crypto assets, the news outlet elaborated:
According to the prefectural police, after [crypto] asset value was recognized by the revised fund settlement law enforced in April last year, it [cryptocurrency] was judged as an asset that can be seized.
The Hyogo Prefectural Police have been increasingly active in collecting unpaid fines and have seized small items including an automatic mahjong table, golf bags, figurines, and brand name goods, the Kobe Shimbun described. The division says that they will not allow violators “to escape since it will be unfair for the people who are paying [the fines].”