Russian BTC-e Operator Extradited from Greece to US

UTC by Ibukun Ogundare · 3 min read
Russian BTC-e Operator Extradited from Greece to US
Photo: Unsplash

In 2017, the Treasury Department placed a $110 million fine on BTC-e for violating US anti-money laundering laws and a $12 million fee against Vinnik. 

Russian BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik, who was indicted for money laundering and running extortion schemes, has been extradited to the US. The suspect’s lawyer in France, Frédéric Bélot, revealed on April 4th that Vinnik has been extracted from Greece and is on his way to the US. According to Bélot, Vinnik will make an initial court appearance in the US Northern District of California.

Vinnik is recognized as an operator of BTC-e, one of the early comers of Bitcoin exchanges. The exchange was later linked to the Japan-based Bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox hack. Mt.Gox lost 774,408 BTC to the attack, forcing the company to shut down in 2014. Three years later, the Department of Justice released a 21-count indictment against BTC-e and its operator Vinnik. Then, the Russian national was arrested in association with various crimes in the exchange’s 6 years of existence. US authorities shut down the company in 2017 and confiscated its servers. The law enforcement officials arrested Vinnik while he was on a beach with his family in Greece.

Per the federal prosecutors’ allegations, the exchange laundered money from “computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corrupt public officials, and narcotics distribution rings.” Specifically, the suspect was charged with 17 money laundering counts and two counts of unlawful monetary transactions. There are also allegations that the BTC-e operator “received funds from the infamous computer intrusion ‘hack’ of Mt.Gox.

BTC-e Operator Extradited amid Allegations in Three Countries

In 2017, the Treasury Department placed a $110 million fine on BTC-e for violating US anti-money laundering laws and a $12 million fee against Vinnik.

Since Vinnik’s arrest, the US, France, and Russia have been competing for his extradition. The three countries. The three countries have different sets of allegations against the accused. However, France won the case in 2020, and the subject was sentenced to five years imprisonment in a French prison. The judge said while reading the sentence:

“Mr. Vinnik, the court acquitted you of the offenses relating to the cyber-attacks linked to Locky, as well as the offenses of extortion and association to criminal activities, but finds you guilty of organized money laundering.”

On July 15th, the US called off its request to extradite Vinnik from France. However, the lawyer said the move would make UK authorities keep the accused in prison longer before deporting him to Greece. He added that “by withdrawing their request, the US reactivate the Greece request.”

In all, Bélot said Vinnik is maintaining his innocence of all allegations.

Bitcoin News, Cryptocurrency News, News
Ibukun Ogundare

Ibukun is a crypto/finance writer interested in passing relevant information, using non-complex words to reach all kinds of audience. Apart from writing, she likes to see movies, cook, and explore restaurants in the city of Lagos, where she resides.

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