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  • J Markezic and M Bacina

Alexander Vinnik reportedly being extradited to US

Alexander Vinnik - a Russian national accused of running BTC-e, a multibillion-dollar cryptocurrency exchange implicated in the MtGox hack - has been reportedly extradited from Greece and is currently in transit to the US, according to his legal representative, Frédéric Bélot.

In 2017, Vinnik was arrested in Greece and extradited to France. He was then sentenced to five years in prison in 2020 for money laundering offences. Critically, Vinnik had also been under indictment in the US since 2017, with the US and Russia filing duelling extradition requests from Greece.

It is alleged that BTC-e profited from various hacking and extortion schemes, including doing business with ransomware gangs, drug dealers and identity thieves, according to the Justice Department.

Vinnik is facing charges in the US Northern District Court of California for allegedly engaging in money laundering activities, as well as operating an unlicensed money services business in the US. The extradition demonstrates US regulatory authorities and prosecutors propensity to pursue notable Russian criminals accused or suspected of cybercrime.

According to CNN, Vinnik's extradition demonstrates:

how US prosecutors have continued to pursue high-profile Russian cybercrime suspects at a time when any faint hopes of cooperation with Moscow on the issue have dimmed.

According to the Justice Department, BTC-e received in excess of US$4 billion worth of bitcoin while it was trading. The US Treasury levied a US$110M fine against the exchange for allegedly willfully violating US anti-money laundering laws, as well as imposing an individual fine of US$12M against Vinnik.

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