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The embattled former BTC-e operator has spent over 3 months in US custody and wants bail due to his trial delay.
Alexander Vinnik, the alleged operator of the defunct Russian crypto exchange BTC-e, has requested bail due to the delay of his trial. The Russian computer expert’s defense team has also petitioned the federal court to submit all trial-related documents within 60 days. Vinnik’s lawyers argue that although he has been in US custody for over 3 months, prosecutors have not provided the documents required for his trial.
Vinnik requested bail after alleging that the US government failed to uphold its commitments in furthering his court proceedings. In addition, the alleged BTC-e operator feels his case warrants a release on bail after spending months in US custody. In early August, Vinnik was extradited to the US to face money laundering charges stemming from his time at BTC-e. The US government accused the Russian native of laundering $4-9 billion. A San Francisco federal court stated that if found guilty, Vinnik could receive a sentence of up to 55 years.
BTC-e Operator Maintains Innocence, Requests Bail or Speedy Trial
Vinnik, who has maintained his innocence, first appeared in federal court on August 5th and reportedly saw his earlier bail request rejected later that month. To seek an adjournment and free himself from incarceration, Vinnik is calling for a release on bond. Alternatively, the accused is eager and would welcome a speedy trial.
Vinnik was apprehended in July 2017 while vacationing in Greece with his family for his role in the since-shutdown exchange BTC-e. According to reports, the Russian computer guru directed and supervised BTC-e’s operations and finances from 2011 to 2017. However, the US government alleged that Vinnik used BTC-e as a front to carry out a number of atrocities. These included extensive money laundering and, to a lesser degree, cyber espionage.
The US government eventually seized all BTC-e funds and the company’s website around the time of Vinnik’s arrest and shut down the platform. The Department of Justice charged Vinnik and BTC-e in a 21-count indictment for the crimes mentioned above, including laundering funds from the hack of Mt Gox.
Ultimately, the US government also requested Vinnik’s extradition from Greece in late July 2017. However, several other countries, including Russia and France, also requested Vinnik’s extradition within the next year for various reasons. These developments saw the Russian native serve detainments in multiple jurisdictions and transported to numerous countries before ending up in the US.
Proposed Prisoner Exchange Program
While awaiting ‘evidence’ from the US government, Vinnik’s legal team also sought to secure a prisoner exchange. In September, Vinnik’s lawyer Frederic Belot asked the Kremlin to consider Vinnik for a potential prisoner swap with the US. It is worth noting that this occurred during the high-profile coverage of then-incarcerated US female athlete Brittney Griner in Russia. While this was unsuccessful, Griner was exchanged on December 8th for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.