Russian National Detained in Greece Allegedly Connected to BTC-e
Alexander Vinnik, 38, was detained in Greece yesterday on the charges of laundering $4 billion with bitcoins. Local media reports that he might be connected to BTC-e, a cryptocurrency exchange used predominantly by the Russian-speaking community, that recently went offline.
According to Daily Thess, Vinnik was on vacation in one of Greece’s most expensive hotels without knowing that the FBI and the police of Greece were secretly tracing him. On July 25th, he was arrested, and brought to the prosecutor of Saloniki the next day. There, the procedure of his extradition to the U.S. was launched.
The American law enforcement believes that Mr. Vinnik is one of the leading members of an organized criminal group that used cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e to launder more than $4 billion. Notably, Mr. Vinnik was found via his account in WebMoney.
The documents sent by the U.S. Department of Justice to the Greek authorities also suggest that the organization was partially related to the assets that had gone missing after the collapse of Mt. Gox. After the alleged hack of Mt. Gox in 2014, nearly 850,000 BTC were stolen, 306,853 of which were transferred to wallets associated with BTC-e.
BTC-e itself is referred to as one of the world’s biggest platforms for money laundering. According to the DOJ, BTC-e was used to launder money received from cyber attacks, extortion, drug trafficking, and tax evasion.
According to Bits.media that quote an admin of qugla.com, Mr. Vinnik is actually co-owner of BTC-e, as well as one of its administrators.
“He’s one of [BTC-e] owners, possibly an admin. The other admin could have an access to the exchange. It’s likely that they’re currently negotiating with the SEC and the DOJ,” he said to the publication.
BTC-e went offline yesterday nearly the same time as Mr. Vinnik was arrested quoting maintenance as the reason for its non-operation.
Unplanned maintenance in data center, possible problems with access to btc-e #btce
— BTC-E (@btcecom) 25 July 2017
Currently, the exchange remains inaccessible.
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