January 15, 2021
Laurent Bachelier Identified As Man Who Allegedly Sent $500K To Far-Right Activists Organizing Capitol Protest

A French computer programmer named Laurent Bachelier allegedly transferred more than $500,000 worth of Bitcoin to far-right activists -- funding that was used to send some groups to the protest at the U.S. Capitol last week that ended with an attack on the building -- before dying in a suspected suicide.

As the Associated Press reported, a firm called Chainalysis that investigates Bitcoin transactions found that a majority of 22 transactions from the 35-year-old French man went to Nick Fuentes, a far-right online activist who was among those to attend the Capitol protest last week. As the report noted, Fuentes denied being part of the group that stormed the building, surrounded it, and broke in through doors and windows.

It was not clear if Bachelier actually intended for the money to be used to send people to the Capitol for the violent protest that was promoted heavily by the far-right and sought to overturn Donald Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election. However, the analysis firm noted that it showed how many in the alt-right have connections to significant funding streams.

"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.

The analysis firm did not reveal the identity of the computer programmer who allegedly sent the Bitcoin, but a reporter from the Associated Press was able to find his identity and online presence. Bachelier reportedly left behind a blog and suicide note, which revealed that he was suffering from a chronic illness and wanted his wealth to go to causes he believed in.

The Daily Mail identified the man as Bachelier, noting an obituary published in his name and confirmation from family members that he died on the day the transactions were made.

Police stand guard outside the U.S. Capitol.
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

As CNN reported, investigators have already charged close to 100 people in connection to the attack, with 275 criminal cases already opened. Federal officials said they are focusing on finding the most violent offenders in what they called an "unprecedented" investigation into the matter.

"Our office organized a strike force of very senior national security prosecutors and public corruption prosecutors. Their only marching orders from me are to build seditious and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol," Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said on Friday.