A DRUG DEALER who had over €50 million stashed away in a number of online accounts has lost the codes to access them.
Clifton Collins, from Crumlin in Dublin, had amassed a fortune of €53.6 million in bitcoins - a cryptocurrency which is a decentralised digital currency without a central bank or single administrator - and spread the wealth over 12 different accounts to prevent online hackers from robbing him.
The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) had confiscated the 12 online accounts, containing 6,000 bitcoin. However, The Irish Times has learned the accounts cannot be accessed because the codes are missing.
Collins had hidden the access codes to his accounts in the cap of fishing rod case, which was left in his rented home in Cornamona, Co Galway.
When he was arrested in 2017 and jailed for five years, there was a break-in at the house, and the landlord cleared most of the items out and took them to a local dump.
Workers at the dump told authorities that they remember seeing fishing gear being thrown out around the time of the break-in, however most of the waste there is transported to Germany and China to be incinerated, making it extremely unlikely the codes will ever be recovered.
It's the biggest case in the Cab's 25-year history, and now the massive €53.6 million is likely out of the bureau's reach, though garda officers are hoping that technology advances could one day enable them to access the accounts so the bitcoin can be used.
Collins told gardaí he has had time to come to terms with losing the money, regarding it as punishment for his own stupidity.
He bought most of the bitcoin in late 2011 and early 2012 using cash he made growing crops of cannabis. The crypto currency has soared in value since then.
The Dubliner is a former security guard who briefly became a beekeeper and won awards for his honey before he turned his attention to growing cannabis for more than a decade. Collins had much smaller amounts of bitcoin in other accounts, valued at €1.5 million, that the Cab has been able to access. Those bitcoin and more than €100,000 in cash has been seized from him.