BTC-e Operator Who Used Bitcoin to Launder $4B Extradited to U.S. to Face Charges
Russian Alexander Vinnik, 42, has been extradited from Greece to the United States to face multiple charges related to money laundering and operating an illegal cryptocurrency exchange, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday.
Vinnik first got into a legal battle with the DOJ in 2017, allegedly operating the now-defunct crypto exchange BTC-e in the U.S. without proper authorization and helping criminals launder at least $4 billion in bitcoin.
That same year, he was arrested in Greece at the request of the U.S. government.After arrest, Vinnick’s assets worth $90 million were seized confiscated By police officers of the New Zealand Police. At the time, authorities noted that BTC-e allegedly had no anti-money laundering policies, thereby facilitating a range of cybercrimes, including money laundering, ransomware attacks, fraud, theft, and drug crimes.
In January 2020, the 42-year-old extradite He was repatriated to France following a years-long extradition spat between Russia, France and the United States.
After being extradited to France, Vinnick denied the charges and requested that he be transferred to Russia, where he faces lesser criminal charges involving about $11,000. His plea was rejected by a judge in Paris who ruled he would face charges in France for defrauding at least 100 people through ransomware between 2016 and 2018.
In December 2020, French prosecutors sentenced Vinnick to five years in prison on money laundering charges. However, he was initially acquitted of charges that he defrauded others through ransomware.
U.S. extradite Greek Vinnick
On Thursday, the criminal was transferred back to Greece and extradited to the United States. He now faces 21 charges, including operating an unlicensed money services business, conspiracy to launder money, money laundering and illegal currency dealing.
“After more than five years of litigation, Russian national Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the U.S. yesterday and held responsible for operating BTC-e, a criminal cryptocurrency exchange that laundered more than $4 billion,” Say Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., Department of Justice Criminal Division.
The FBI, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Secret Service Criminal Investigation Division are still investigating the case. If convicted, Vinnick could spend up to 50 years in a U.S. prison.
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