Crime no longer pays – Whatever one thinks of it, the Silk Road black market can be considered the first (successful) economic test of Bitcoin as a bargaining chip. Almost 7 years after its closure by the police (in October 2013), the darknet marketplace sees another of its contributors fall into the hands of justice.
After his lies, the programmer finally pleads guilty
From 2011 to 2013, Silk Road was a veritable hub for all illicit trafficking,led by the drug trade. Ross Ulbricht,founder and administrator of this site hidden in the deep web, was sentenced to life imprisonment for these activities, during a trial as hasty as punitive in 2015.
Before long, another trial will begin, as the site's main programmer has pleaded guilty in the Southern District Court of New York, according to a court statement.
Michael R. Weigand,now 56, has confessed to making false statements to federal agents about his involvement in Silk Road.
His lies were intended to conceal his role from Roger Thomas Clark,Ulbricht's chief adviser. During his hearing in January 2019 by FBI agents, the accused allegedly denied several facts on which he has just disavowed,including:
That he had hidden behind the pseudonym "Shabang" on Silk Road; « That he had never transferred bitcoins (BTC) on this black market;That he had never provided services to this darknet site.
For U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss,Michael Weigand's guilt is not in doubt:
"[the accused] assisted Silk Road, among other things, by identifying the site's technological vulnerabilities, providing technological advice directly to Silk Road's management, and travelling abroad to conceal evidence accusing Silk Road in the residence of a co-conspirator."
Its designers used the Tor network and a "Bitcoin-based payment system" to achieve their goals.
Michael Weigand's trial will take place on 18 December 2020. The charge of making false statements alone can result in a sentence of up to 5 years' imprisonment..
Even if Silk Road had the merit of being a first validation of bitcoin's role as currency, it also tarnished its image. Specifically, government authorities have used it as a pretext to treat Bitcoin as "the currency of traffickers." Fortunately, today this discourse is outdated, and Bitcoin is even prized by large groups and investment funds.