Man sues Newport City to recover $525 million in lost bitcoin

abdelaziz Fathi

A UK computer expert has filed a lawsuit against Newport City Council to gain access to a landfill site where he believes a hard drive containing bitcoins worth $525 million is buried.

James Howells claims the hard drive was mistakenly thrown away in 2013 and now seeks legal permission to excavate the landfill in an attempt to recover the digital currency. After all these years, Howells remains hopeful about recovering his Bitcoin. He acknowledges the hard drive’s exterior might be worn and rusted, but he’s optimistic that the internal disk remains undamaged.

Backed by hedge fund investors, Howells has proposed a £10 million search operation that would employ advanced technologies, including AI and robot security dogs, to locate the hard drive. Despite his offer to share 25% of the recovered bitcoins with the city council, his repeated requests for permission have been denied due to environmental concerns.

The Newport City Council has cited ecological risks associated with Howells’ proposed excavation, stating that such activities are incompatible with the council’s statutory duties and the terms of their landfill site permit. Howells, however, argues that his team of environmental and data recovery experts can conduct the search with minimal ecological impact.

The legal action marks a continuation of Howells’ decade-long effort to reclaim the lost bitcoins, which he says were discarded during an office clearout. The potential value of the bitcoins, initially mined when the digital currency was in its infancy, has skyrocketed, prompting Howells to pursue increasingly elaborate plans to recover the hard drive.

Howells’ previous recovery plans involved the use of artificial intelligence to guide a mechanical arm in sifting through the landfill’s rubbish. This will be followed by manual sorting at a temporary facility near the site. Security measures, such as robot dogs, will be deployed to protect the site during the operation.

The case has garnered attention due to the unique circumstances of the lost bitcoins and the considerable sum involved. If the hard drive is found and the bitcoins recovered, Howells has pledged to use the funds to benefit the Newport community, including the establishment of a community-owned data mining facility and a power generation facility with wind turbines.

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