Gemini exchange founders Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss have filed suit against Bitinstant founder and convicted felon Charlie Shrem, alleging that Shrem stole 5,000 Bitcoin from them in 2012, the New York Times reported today. The Bitcoin in question have a current value of roughly $32 million.
According to the report, Shrem’s purchasing habits in the last year drew the attention of the twins, who suspected that he was spending Bitcoin that he was supposed to have delivered to them more than six years ago. The brothers apparently abandoned efforts to obtain those purchased coins after Shrem’s business collapsed and he was arrested for willfully selling Bitcoin to criminals for use in drug deals on Silk Road.
The twins renewed their interest in recovering their property when they noticed Shrem making several large purchases. As Cameron Winklevoss told the Times,
“When he purchased $4 million in real estate, two Maseratis and two powerboats, we decided it was time to get to the bottom of it.”
To do that, the two retained an investigator to look into Shrem’s spending activities. That investigator discovered that 5,000 Bitcoins had been sent through Shrem’s wallet addresses in 2013. Those funds eventually made their way to the Xapo wallet service and Coinbase.
The Times also reports that the twins have been successful in getting the courts to freeze at least some of Shrem’s assets:
Jed S. Rakoff, a judge in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, approved an application the twins made in September to freeze any funds that Mr. Shrem holds with those companies. Judge Rakoff wrote in his order that Mr. Shrem had “evidenced an intent to frustrate the collection efforts of his creditors.”
Shrem attorney Brian Klein responded to the allegations with a firm denial, and vowed that his client would “vigorously defend himself and quickly clear his name.”