PARIS — A French computer programmer transferred more than $500,000 in Bitcoin to far-right activists just before his death last month, including some involved in last week’s riot in Washington, researchers said Friday.
Chainalysis, a firm that investigates Bitcoin transactions, found that the majority of the 22 transactions on Dec. 8 went to Nick Fuentes, a far-right Internet influencer who was in the protest crowd but denies being part of the deadly mob at the Capitol building.
The 35-year-old Frenchman who transferred the money posted a suicide note on his blog the day after the Dec. 8 transactions, saying he was chronically ill and wanted to leave his wealth to “certain causes and people.”
Chainalysis did not release the man’s identity but, retracing the researchers’ steps, an Associated Press journalist found his blog, suicide note, and a cached version of his obituary confirmed his death the same day.
Federal investigators in the U.S. are looking into possible “co-ordination or planning” ahead of the riot and are using a number of methods they deploy routinely in criminal investigations, including examining financial transactions and cellphone and travel records.
Michael Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, said investigators were also examining whether there was any “command and control” and vowed to bring charges if prosecutors could prove a conspiracy. But so far, no such conspiracy charges have been brought.
The Chainalysis investigation found that the Frenchman sent 28.15 Bitcoins, worth about $522,000 to 22 addresses, including many belonging to American far-right activists and organizations. Fuentes received about $250,000 worth. Other recipients included an anti-immigration organization, an alt-right streamer and a number of unidentified addresses.
“The donation, as well as reports of the planning that went into the Capitol raid on alt-right communication channels, also suggests that domestic extremist groups may be better organized and funded than previously thought,” the researchers wrote.
French financial investigators did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Colleen Long contributed from Washington.
Lori Hinnant, The Associated Press