The far right groups and personalities received the unexpected last month and evidence “strongly suggests” that it came from a now deceased computer programmer based in France, according to the researcher Chainalysis Inc.
On Dec. 8, the donor sent 28.15 Bitcoins, worth about $ 522,000 at the time of transfer, to 22 separate addresses in one transaction, according to Chainalysis, whose clients include law enforcement agencies. Web personality Nick Fuentes, who the The Anti-Defamation League describes as a white supremacist, received the largest share – about $ 250,000 – – and other recipients included the anti-immigration organization VDare and “alt-right streamer” Ethan Ralph, researchers said.
The French programmer appears to be Laurent Bachelier, according to online records.
Ralph, who runs a political podcast where he denied the Capitol attack, confirmed that he received about “half of Bitcoin” on December 8, but he doesn’t know exactly who sent it to him. He said he had never received gifts from that wallet before and immediately sold his share of the donation.
“I certainly do not support domestic terrorism,” Ralph said in an interview. He rejected the label “alt right”, saying instead that he was a right-wing conservative.
Fuentes did not return messages seeking comment. VDare.com Editor Peter Brimelow did not address the donation but said he did not participate in the Jan. 6 protests, other than writing about it.
The entities’ anonymous encrypted Bitcoin addresses were usually public, making it relatively easy to track payments over the online ledger known as blockchain containing all peer-to-peer transactions, Chainalysis said.
U.S. law enforcement is investigating whether the donations were related to the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, according to Yahoo! News, which reported the donations before.
While there is nothing to suggest that Bachelier’s contributions are illegal, regulators around the world have expressed concern about using cryptocurrencies to fund terrorism, money laundering and other illegal activities, including Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen at her confirmation hearing March. Last week, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said that Bitcoin has been enabling “funny business. ”
Fuentes was among those who protested in Washington on Jan. 6, but according to his Twitter page, he did not enter the Capitol building like many others did. Five people died in the agitation, including a terrorist who was shot by police and a Capitol Hill police officer after a confrontation with trespassers.
Bachelier, who posted an apparent suicide note online on Dec. 9, said he suffered from eight years of health problems, leaving him “a prisoner in my body who appears to be three times my age.”
“I am fascinated by what happens after I die,” he wrote. “This is why I decided to make my modest fortune to some causes and some people.” It does not name the recipients. Bachelier said it was clear to him that “Western civilization was in decline” and that the consequences of the Industrial Revolution were “catastrophic for humanity.” He also complained of a “disproportionate violation of liberty in the face of a virus less dangerous than the flu season.”
Attempts to reach the Bachelier family were unsuccessful. His former employer, a French online genealogy company called Geneanet.org, confirmed that Bachelier was an employee and had died but did not provide further details.
Fabien Bachelier told the Wall Street Journal that his brother committed suicide and the family was in grief.
Bachelier has had a cryptocurrency wallet since 2013, and was likely an early adopter of Bitcoin, Chainalysis said.
The programmer had made much smaller donations to some of the same organizations in the past, Chainalysis told Bloomberg. In August last year, he gave $ 500 to Gab, $ 125 to Ruqqus and $ 1,600 to Fuentes. He also made two small donations in June 2020.
Gab and Ruqqus did not respond to emails seeking comment.
“This multi-coordinated donation made December 2020 the largest month we have ever observed in terms of cryptocurrency received from addresses related to domestic extremism,” according to Chainalysis.