Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik was accused by the US government of money laundering and operating an “unlicensed monetary service”. He was arrested in Greece in July during a vacation with his wife and two children in the frame of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice and is currently being held there on charges until he can be extradited to the U.S.
The US authorities blame Vinnik for laundering $4 billion through BTC-e. He is also charged with the hack of the Japanese stock exchange Mt.Gox and steal of its means in the amount of 850 thousand BTC in 2011-2013.
In the latest interview with Russia Today, Alexander Vinnik claimed his total innocence and rejected any possibility of his voluntary extradition:
Yes, I worked for BTC-e and did my job, and it’s wrongful to accuse me of it. I found out about this accusation about a month after my arrest. My lawyer told me about it. I was taken in charge in Greece right on the beach, they conducted a search in my hotel room and three days later transferred me to Saloniki prison.
“Firstly, I haven’t committed anything illegal and secondly, I don’t understand what concern do the US authorities have with me and what legal right allows them to judge Russian citizen,” – added Alexander.
Alexander Vinnik claims he has never had any relations with the United States and, what is more, he has never even been there, to say nothing of running a business in America.
On July 25, BTC-e was shut down by the US authorities, but soon after that it came back online with a promise to return user funds. The BTC-e group denied the fact of Vinnik’s affiliation to the exchange.
According to the words of Alexandra Vinnik, the arrested BTC-e operator’s wife, the US authorities are simply interested in her husband’s intellect:
He didn’t realize how interesting he could be to a state, especially one like the US.
Alexandra is convinced the US was keen to get him “because of his knowledge, because of his intellectual abilities above all.” In addition, she stated that her detained husband had never headed the BTC-e exchange.
According to Vinnik’s wife, the accusation is centered on a statement that BTC-e operated without a license and pushed to the side control-related activities failing to prevent money laundering. Allegedly, the BTC-e managers knew they were creating a platform for illegal purposes.
In this relation, Alexandra Vinnik stated:
By this way of thinking you could make the manufacturers of frying pans guilty because wives hit their husbands with them. It’s the same thing.