Alexander Vinnik, a Russian IT expert accused of owning and operating the notorious cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, has been handed over to the U.S. This week, Greek authorities went ahead with his extradition following his return from France, even as Vinnik’s defenders protested the move and called for The case is a “judicial, diplomatic and humanitarian scandal”.
Vinnik Appears in San Francisco Federal Court, Facing Money Laundering Charges
The putative co-founder and operator of the notorious cryptocurrency exchange bitcoin-eAlexander Vinnik was extradited from Greece to the United States on Thursday. The U.S. Justice Department announced Friday that the Russian national faces charges in the Northern District of California and has appeared in federal court in San Francisco. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., of the department’s criminal division, was quoted as saying:
After more than five years of litigation, Russian national Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the United States yesterday to be held responsible for operating BTC-e, a criminal cryptocurrency exchange that laundered more than $4 billion.
Vinnik, 42, was arrested on a U.S. warrant while vacationing in the Greek city of Thessaloniki in the summer of 2017. In January of that year, U.S. prosecutors charged him with 21 surrogate indictments. Greece granted an extradition request from the United States but sent him first to France in December 2019 under a European arrest warrant.
A French court has sentenced the Russian cryptocurrency entrepreneur to five years in prison for money laundering, who recently service His tenure, taking into account his pretrial detention. In France, he has also been charged with identity theft and racketeering. In July, U.S. authorities quit The request to obtain the Russian directly from France was apparently intended to expedite his transfer through Greece, which has approved his extradition to the United States.
According to the U.S. indictment, the now-defunct BTC-e was “a significant cybercrime and online money laundering entity that allowed its users to trade bitcoin with a high degree of anonymity and developed a client base that was heavily reliant on criminal activity.” It claims that the exchange facilitates global cybercrime transactions, profiting from a wide range of crimes such as Mt Gox Hackerransomware scams, and even drug deals.
BTC-e and Vinnik were charged with one count of operating an unlicensed money services business in the United States, as well as one count of conspiracy to launder money. The Russians also face 17 counts of money laundering and two counts of illegal currency dealing. The Justice Department noted that his platform does not have the “know your customer” verification system required by federal law, nor does it have an anti-money laundering program.
Russia, U.S. extradition of lawyer Brandvin Nick ‘kidnapping’ and ‘violent disappearance’
Vinnick’s French lawyer, Frederic Belot, confirmed in an interview with Russia’s TASS news agency that his accused had been handed over after his return from France, according to the decision of the investigative chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal on Thursday morning. US detention. “He was immediately transferred to another plane bound for the United States. The plane landed in Boston and then flew to San Francisco,” Bellott explained.
“According to three decisions by French judges, Alexander Vinnick, who was supposed to be free, was transferred yesterday as a prisoner to Greece, where he was actually ‘loaded’ on a private jet to the United States, but he asked and No permission was granted, while the Greek newspaper Ethnos quoted Zoe Konstantopoulou, who represented him in Greece and France, as saying to seek asylum, get an interpreter, and have me as his lawyer.
Konstantopoulou recently shared her opinion that Russia will be seen as a “hostageThe ongoing military conflict in NATO-backed Ukraine, where Moscow has waged an all-out war since late February, has been described as a “special military operation” to defend the Russian-speaking population. Western governments have opted to ignore Russia’s own offer to extradite Vinnik request.
The IT expert, who denies the U.S. charges and maintains his innocence, has previously offered to return to his home country and appear in court there. In Russia, he was charged with embezzling more than 600,000 rubles (nearly $10,000) and 750 million rubles ($12.3 million) for “fraudulent acts in the field of computer information.”
While the U.S. Department of Justice thanked the Greek government and the Ministry of Justice for “all efforts to secure the transfer of the accused to the United States,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova statement Moscow was “outraged at the unfriendly behavior of the Greek authorities” and accused Washington of “a real hunt for Russian citizens”, calling Winnick’s hasty extradition a “kidnapping.” While not mentioned in the DOJ’s announcement, the owner of BTC-e is also suspected of collaborating with Russian intelligence agencies.
In her comments, Zoe Constantopoulou described the case as a “judicial, diplomatic, intergovernmental scandal” for years, while calling his extradition a “violent disappearance from Greek territory” that “constitutes the mafia The means and criminal acts of … serious violations of international law and Greek legislation”, committed with the participation of two foreign countries. Vinnick sought asylum in Greece and his defense team has been trying to secure his release on humanitarian grounds. His wife died in 2020, and their two sons are now growing up without parents.
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