A Bitcoin investor is preparing to sue Newport City Council (UK) for refusing to dig into a landfill to find a hard drive containing 7,500 BTC. The Telegraph reports this.
Former computer engineer James Howells accidentally threw away a device containing cryptocurrency in August 2013 while cleaning his office. His partner took the bag containing the hard drive to a scrapyard in South Wales.
For 10 years, Howells applied to the authorities of Newport for permission to work to find the HDD.
Now his lawyers have sent an open letter to the municipality demanding access to the site by September 18.
Otherwise, the crypto investor intends to begin a legal battle for reimbursement by the city council of $557 million. The amount is an estimate of the lost bitcoins at a historical maximum price.
Howells also plans to seek a judicial review of the government’s decision to deny him access to the landfill.
“For 10 years I tried everything I could, but they didn’t want to cooperate, so I’ll have to go the legal route. There’s $500 million in the ground, and they don’t even want to talk about it seriously. It doesn’t matter what the item is, be it Bitcoin, gold or diamonds. Not discussing this is idiotic,” Howells said.
He suggested the council cover the cost of the excavation as well as donate to the Newport community. According to previous estimates, the cost of the work ranged from $6 million to $11 million in the case of a three-year search. Based on the price at the time of writing, the amount of lost cryptocurrency is approximately $194 million.
Howells is being funded by an unknown outside investor. The former engineer assembled a team of 16 people, including a former landfill manager and data recovery specialists. Each participant will receive a portion of the cryptocurrency from the disk in case of success, the probability of which is up to 90% if the device is not damaged.
A Newport City Council spokesman confirmed that Howells had made numerous inquiries since 2013 regarding the return of the disc, which may not be at the site. According to him, excavations are impossible in accordance with current environmental standards, since work of this kind will have a “huge negative impact on the environment of the surrounding area.”
The official noted that the authorities’ position has not changed.
Recall that in 2021, Howells offered the city council $72 million to excavate the landfill. To find the hard drive, he intended to use artificial intelligence and use robots from Boston Dynamics.
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