Alleged BTC-e Operator Alexander Vinnik in US Custody After Quick Extradition From Greece

Russian IT specialist Alexander Vinnik, accused of proudly owning and operating the notorious crypto trade BTC-e, has been handed over to the U.S. This week, Greek authorities proceeded with the extradition, after his return from France, regardless of Vinnik’s protection protesting the transfer and calling the case a “judicial, diplomatic and humanitarian scandal.”

Vinnik Seems in San Francisco Federal Courtroom to Face Cash Laundering Prices

The presumed co-founder and operator of the infamous crypto trade BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik, was extradited from Greece to the USA on Thursday. The Russian nationwide is going through fees within the Northern District of California and has already appeared in federal courtroom in San Francisco, the U.S. Division of Justice introduced Friday. Assistant Lawyer Common Kenneth A. Well mannered, Jr. of the division’s Felony Division, was quoted as stating:

After greater than 5 years of litigation, Russian nationwide Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the USA yesterday to be held accountable for working BTC-e, a prison cryptocurrency trade, which laundered greater than $4 billion of prison proceeds.

The 42-year-old Vinnik was arrested whereas on trip within the Greek metropolis of Thessaloniki in the summertime of 2017 on a U.S. warrant. He had been charged by American prosecutors in a 21-count superseding indictment in January of that 12 months. Greece authorized an extradition request filed by the USA however despatched him first to France in December 2019, underneath a European arrest warrant.

A French courtroom sentenced the Russian crypto entrepreneur to 5 years in jail for cash laundering, and he lately served his time period, considering his pre-trial detention. In France, he was additionally charged with identification theft and extortion. In July, U.S. authorities withdrew a request to get the Russian immediately from France in an apparent try to hurry up his switch by way of Greece, which had already authorized his extradition to the USA.

In line with the U.S. indictment, the now-defunct BTC-e was a “important cybercrime and on-line cash laundering entity that allowed its customers to commerce in bitcoin with excessive ranges of anonymity and developed a buyer base closely reliant on prison exercise.” It alleges the trade facilitated world cybercrime transactions, receiving proceeds from a variety of crimes, such because the Mt Gox hack, ransomware scams, and even drug commerce.

BTC-e and Vinnik had been charged with one depend of operation of an unlicensed cash service enterprise within the U.S., and one depend of conspiracy to commit cash laundering as properly. The Russian can also be going through 17 counts of cash laundering and two counts of partaking in illegal financial transactions. The Justice Division famous his platform had no system for know-your-customer verification and no anti-money laundering program as required by federal regulation.

Russia, Lawyer Model Vinnik’s US Extradition ‘Abduction’ and ‘Violent Disappearance’

Talking to the Russian information company Tass, Vinnik’s French lawyer Frederic Belot confirmed his defendant had been handed over to US custody, upon his return from France underneath the choice by the Investigation Chamber of the Paris Courtroom of Appeals from Thursday morning. “He was instantly transferred to a different airplane that flew to the USA. The airplane landed in Boston after which flew to San Francisco,” Belot defined.

“Alexander Vinnik, who must be free primarily based on three selections by the French justice, was transferred yesterday as a prisoner to Greece and there he was actually ‘loaded’ on a personal airplane to the USA, with out being allowed, as he requested and whereas looking for asylum, to have entry to an interpreter, to me as his lawyer,” Zoe Konstantopoulou, who has been representing him in Greece and France, stated quoted by the Greek newspaper Ethnos.

Alleged BTC-e Operator Alexander Vinnik in US Custody After Immediate Extradition From Greece

Konstantopoulou lately shared her fears that the Russian might be held by the U.S. as a “hostage” of the continuing army battle in NATO-supported Ukraine, the place Moscow is waging a full-scale struggle since late February, introduced as a “particular army operation” in protection of the Russian-speaking inhabitants. Western governments have chosen to disregard Russia’s personal requests for Vinnik’s extradition.

The IT skilled, who has denied the U.S. allegations and maintained his innocence, has beforehand expressed his will to return to his homeland and seem earlier than courtroom there. In Russia he’s charged with embezzlement of greater than 600,000 rubles (near $10,000) and “fraud within the area of pc data” for 750 million rubles ($12.3 million).

Whereas the U.S. Justice Division thanked the Greek authorities and justice ministry “for all their efforts in securing the defendant’s switch to the USA,” the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Overseas Affairs Maria Zakharova stated that Moscow is “outraged by the unfriendly actions of the Greek authorities” and accused Washington of conducting a “actual hunt for Russian residents,” calling Vinnik’s hasty extradition an “abduction.” Whereas not talked about within the DOJ announcement, the proprietor of BTC-e is suspected of getting collaborated with Russian intelligence, too.

In her feedback, Zoe Konstantopoulou described the case as a multi-year “judicial, diplomatic, intergovernmental scandal,” whereas referring to his extradition as a “violent disappearance from Greek territory” which “constitutes a Mafia methodology and a prison act… a critical violation of worldwide regulation and Greek laws,” dedicated with the participation of two overseas states. Vinnik sought asylum in Greece and his protection workforce has been attempting to additionally safe a launch on humanitarian grounds. His spouse died in 2020 and their two sons are actually rising up with out mother and father.

Tags on this story
Alexander Vinnik, Arrest, asylum, BTC-e, Charges, conflict, Crypto, crypto exchange, Cryptocurrencies, Cryptocurrency, Exchange, extradition, France, french, Greece, Greek, Money Laundering, Mt Gox, operator, Request, russian, sentence, Trial, Ukraine, ukrainian, vinnik, War

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Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Jap Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a author is what I’m, slightly than what I do.” In addition to crypto, blockchain and fintech, worldwide politics and economics are two different sources of inspiration.

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