Russian IT specialist Alexander Vinnik, accused of proudly owning and working the notorious crypto change 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 Court docket to Face Cash Laundering Costs
The presumed co-founder and operator of the infamous crypto change BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik, was extradited from Greece to america on Thursday. The Russian nationwide is dealing with expenses within the Northern District of California and has already appeared in federal court docket in San Francisco, the U.S. Division of Justice introduced Friday. Assistant Lawyer Normal Kenneth A. Well mannered, Jr. of the division’s Prison Division, was quoted as stating:
After greater than 5 years of litigation, Russian nationwide Alexander Vinnik was extradited to america yesterday to be held accountable for working BTC-e, a prison cryptocurrency change, 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 permitted an extradition request filed by america however despatched him first to France in December 2019, underneath a European arrest warrant.
A French court docket sentenced the Russian crypto entrepreneur to 5 years in jail for cash laundering, and he just lately served his time period, bearing in mind his pre-trial detention. In France, he was additionally charged with id theft and extortion. In July, U.S. authorities withdrew a request to get the Russian instantly from France in an apparent try to hurry up his switch by Greece, which had already permitted his extradition to america.
In response to 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 change facilitated international 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 dealing with 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 Court docket of Appeals from Thursday morning. “He was instantly transferred to a different airplane that flew to america. The airplane landed in Boston after which flew to San Francisco,” Belot defined.
“Alexander Vinnik, who needs to be free based mostly on three selections by the French justice, was transferred yesterday as a prisoner to Greece and there he was actually ‘loaded’ on a non-public airplane to the USA, with out being allowed, as he requested and whereas in search of asylum, to have entry to an interpreter, to me as his lawyer,” Zoe Konstantopoulou, who has been representing him in Greece and France, mentioned quoted by the Greek newspaper Ethnos.
Konstantopoulou just lately shared her fears that the Russian shall be held by the U.S. as a “hostage” of the continued army battle in NATO-supported Ukraine, the place Moscow is waging a full-scale warfare since late February, offered 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 court docket there. In Russia he’s charged with embezzlement of greater than 600,000 rubles (near $10,000) and “fraud within the subject of laptop 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 america,” the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of International Affairs Maria Zakharova acknowledged 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 technique and a prison act… a critical violation of worldwide regulation and Greek laws,” dedicated with the participation of two international states. Vinnik sought asylum in Greece and his protection staff has been attempting to additionally safe a launch on humanitarian grounds. His spouse died in 2020 and their two sons at the moment are rising up with out mother and father.
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