The Government is making tens of millions of dollars by selling cryptocurrency police have seized from criminals.
Newstalk ZB and the Herald can reveal the police have confiscated close to $32 million worth of crypto in the past six years.
The bulk of what has been sized has been sold – documents obtained under the official information act shows $28.7 million has been made through cryptocurrency sales.
That money goes into the Government's coffers.
Assets police confiscate from criminals goes into a Ministry of Justice Fund to pay for crime prevention programmes.
Various Government departments can apply for that funding.
Police Minister Poto Williams told Newstalk ZB this fund is important as it helps prevent harm in the community.
And said she expected the amount of cryptocurrency seized from criminals would only increase in the coming years.
"I think that's the way things are tracking."
OIA data shows the vast majority of the crypto was seized in the 2019/2020 financial year when an estimated value of $31.4m was seized.
Williams could not provide details of the bust, or busts.
But the documents show almost all of it came from money laundering.
The estimated value of the cryptocurrency seized after methamphetamine operations was just over $500,000 across the last six years.
Some $60,000 was related to MDMA/Ecstasy offending over the same period.
The OIA does not say what type of cryptocurrency – for example Bitcoin – was confiscated by police.
After assets such as these have been deemed as being obtained unlawfully by Police, they are sold by the Official Assignee and given to the Ministry of Justice to put in the Proceeds of Crime Fund.
A select number of Government departments can apply for this money, as long as it's used to fund initiatives which reduce crime.
For example, the Department of Corrections got $5m for a Reintegration Services for Women.
The Ministry if Health got $7.6m for a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder programme and the Police got $1.9m towards aggravated robbery prevention schemes.
Police Association President Chris Cahill said this is a good programme, as it helps prevent future criminal activity.
He does not think the police should get priority access to the Ministry's fund.
"Police having priority access would create the situation where police would be seen as revenue gathers.
He said that has the potential to lead to accusations that they prioritise investigations where they can achieve revenue for themselves.