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According to the lawyer of Alexander Vinnik, an alleged Bitcoin launderer, questioned by French investigators, the charges are ‘trumped up’.
Though the legal saga related to Alexander Vinnik, the alleged BTC-e administrator, started more than a year ago, nothing is still clear. The situation has become even more complicated.
Let us remind that Alexander Vinnik, Russian citizen, was detained on July 25, 2017, at request of American authorities, and was accused of having laundered four to nine billion dollars using BTC-e cryptocurrency trading platform that now doesn’t exist and of having operated an unlicensed monetary service.
What’s more, a little bit later it was revealed that Vinnik had never been an employee of that platform and, obviously, hadn’t headed it. He is also suspected in having hacked a well-known Japanese stock exchange Mt.Gox and having stolen an amount of 850 thousand BTC in 2011-2013 from the platform.
He was arrested in July 2017 in Greece, where he was on holidays with his family. The arrest took place in the framework of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice.
At the current moment, Vinnink is still in Greece in local police custody, though law enforcement authorities in three different countries require to extradite him.
As it has become known, yesterday he was questioned by French investigators as part of a criminal case initiated against him in Paris. Nevertheless, one of his attorneys, Timofei Musatov insists that the charges are trumped-up.
“It is no coincidence that the interview has been scheduled before Alexander’s extradition and aims to exert not only psychological pressure on my client, but also to obtain evidence of his guilt, which is absent in his case files.”
Musatov also added:
“Judging from the questions provided by the French investigators in advance, the defense team concluded that there is no evidence of Alexander’s guilt in the case files, while the information the investigators rely on has been falsified.”
Vinnik has been indicted in the U.S., France and Russia. In France, he is accused of having laundered BTC worth nearly 133 million euros (which is $155 million). At the same time, Russian prosecutors have charged the fake BTC-e administrator with a lesser fraud. In Russia, the filed charges amount to 750 million rubles ($11 million).
Greek courts have already approved the extradition requests received from all the above-mentioned countries, nevertheless, the final judgement has not been made yet. But it is expected that quite soon Greek Minister of Justice will take a decision where Vinnik will stand trial.
There is little surprise that the defense team believes that Vinnik should be extradited to Russia. Moreover, a Greek lawyer, formerly the youngest speaker of the Greek Parliament, attorney Zoe Konstantopoulou has joined the team. According to Musatov, Konstantopoulou had a lot of questions to ask French justice system officials to prove the fact of falsification of the charges against Vinnik.