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On Monday, the French prosecutors announced a five-year-sentence for Russian national Alexander Vinnik for his alleged involvement in creating software to launder money. He faces multiple charges of helping cybercriminals and ransomware gangs.
It is game over for Alexander Vinnik, the operator of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e. On Monday, December 7, a French judge sentenced five-year prison and a fine of €100,000 on alleged charges of laundering funds for ransomware gangs and cybercriminals.
The French prosecutors have also put charges against the Russian national for “extortion, conspiracy and harming automatic data-processing systems”. While reading the sentence, the judge said:
“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”.
Earlier this year, Vinnik faced extradition from Greece to France. Back in 2017, Vinnik was arrested on a special request by the US Department of Justice. The French prosecutors also noted that Vinnik was personally involved in the creation of Ransomware software Locky.
The US DOJ also indicted Vinnik on multiple allegations of “computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corrupt public officials and narcotics distribution rings”. Soon after, the FBI also seized the domain shutting down the exchange later.
BTC-e Operator Vinnik Facing Charges in Different Jurisdictions
Alexander Vinnik has been facing multiple charges from different global jurisdictions including his home country Russia. Soon as Vinnik’s arrest became public in 2017, even the Russian official filed for his extradition. Vinnik was allegedly involved and a suspect in a Russian investigation involving fraud charges.
Experts also noted that Russian authorities were just trying to bring back Vinnik home to prevent Vinnik from disclosing any secrets to the US intelligence. Attorney Frederic Belot who represents Vinnik said that the US intelligence is still seeking to get Vinnik.
Belot believes that Vinnik still had chances of total acquittal if he had cooperated with court investigation this year. However, he chose not to do so on the advice of his two other lawyers, Zoe Konstantopoulou and Ariane Zimra.
“Alexander decided to keep silent and not to ask anything or reply to any questions of the judge. And the consequence we can see is that Alexander is sentenced guilty,” Belot said.
It’s not sure how the case will proceed ahead further. However, it looks like Vinnik will currently remain in the custody of French officials.