Jeff Fawkes is a seasoned investment professional and a crypto analyst. He has a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing and is passionate when it comes to how technology impacts our society.
The recent news reported that Greece has decided to transfer former BTC-e admin Alexander Vinnik to France. However, he is going to the U.S., according to the RIA news site and his lawyer.
Alexander Vinnik is a former BTC-e administrator and fraudster. BTC-e exchange was laundering billions since 2015 and Vinnik’s arrest happened after the U.S. court order. Some facts point that he has connections with the Mt. Gox hack and Russian special service agents.
Vinnik Lost FSB Protection in Complicated Case
Greece is preparing for the extradition of Alexander Vinnik to the United States. Local cops arrested him during rest at one of the VIP private resorts. The U.S. officials and a number of independent investigators say that Russian criminals and hackers related to corrupt FSB agents were using his services to ‘wash’ money.
Vinnik was sitting in the Greek prison for more than two years, awaiting for verdict. The judge wrote three court orders that prescribe to send Vinnik to Russia, France or the U.S.
His lawyer Timofey Musatov insists that Vinnik must be sent to Russia, as this is what Vinnik himself wants.
Two days ago, the Greece Ministry of Justice’s head Konstantinos Tsiaras had signed the approval of sending Vinnik to France. Despite the official judge’s decision says he is going to France, the Minister had sent a private letter to prison head with the command to prepare the documents regarding sending Vinnik to the U.S. After interrogation he is presumably going to the Russian government.
The letter leaked and got into the hands of RIA journalists. Per Timofey Musatov, Vinnik’s lawyer:
“This means that the French side will not come and they didn’t even want. The document points on the fact that the extradition to the U.S. was prepared beforehand”
He also notes that the French court order lost its power. According to the RIA sources in the Ministry of Justice, Greece plans the extradition before the New Year. Vinnik also has Greece-based second lawyer, Zoi Constantopoulou. She will file an appeal immediately, and did call current judgment “a death penalty”.
At the same time, Vinnik says that he will not be going anywhere and continues a hunger-strike.
How Vinnik Was Arrested?
Vinnik came to Greece in 2017, to have some rest with his wife and two kids. At that moment, Washington accused him of violating the U.S. AML laws and operating a cryptocurrency exchange without a warrant. They also stated that the BTC-e exchange where Vinnik worked as a system administrator and accountant was laundering billions of dollars in grey cash.
France claims that Vinnik is guilty of stealing the money from the French people during the time he was in jail. However, this is impossible because he didn’t have the access to Internet and devices. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs had some talks with the Greek Ministers on 6 November. The Moscow actively sends packages of arguments in favor of sending Vinnik to Russia.
Why is Vinnik such a superstar, you may ask? It is clear that Vinnik may hold large amounts of cryptocurrency, and this is of big interest to powers of any jurisdiction. He also knows the inside workings of the BTC-e and WEX exchanges. He knows where to look for the BTC-e backlogs, databases, and presumably user’s coins. And, strangely, he is under the protection of Timofey Musatov, a man allegedly working with the FSB agents and informants if captured by the dangerous foreign court.