The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Friday that Alexander Vinnik, a 42-year-old Russian, has been extradited from Greece to the United States over multiple charges related to money laundering and operating an illegal cryptocurrency exchange.
Vinnik first ran into legal trouble with the DOJ in 2017 for allegedly operating the now-defunct crypto trading platform BTC-e in the US without proper authorization and helping criminals launder at least $4 billion through Bitcoin.
An extradition fight
That same year, he was arrested in Greece at the request of the US government. After his arrest, Vinnik’s assets, worth $90 million, were seized by the police in the New Zealand Police Force. At the time, authorities noted that BTC-e reportedly lacked anti-money laundering policies, allowing for a range of cybercrimes, including illicit proceeds laundering, ransomware attacks, fraud, theft and drug crimes.
In January 2020, the 42-year-old was then extradited to France after years of extradition struggles between Russia, France and the United States.
After his extradition to France, Vinnik denied the allegations and requested a transfer to Russia, where he faces reduced criminal charges of about $11,000. His request was rejected by a Paris-based judge who ruled he would be charged in France for defrauding at least 100 people with ransomware between 2016 and 2018.
In December 2020, French prosecutors sentenced Vinnik to five years in prison for money laundering. However, he was cleared of the initial charge of defrauding people through ransomware.
US extradites Vinnik from Greece
On Thursday, the criminal was sent back to Greece and extradited to the US. He is now on trial on 21 charges, including operating an unlicensed money service business, conspiracy to launder money, money laundering and illegal money transfers.
After more than five years of litigation, Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the United States yesterday to be held responsible for the exploitation of BTC-e, a criminal cryptocurrency exchange, which has laundered more than $4 billion in criminal proceeds. ” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Criminal Division of the Ministry of Justice.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations and the Criminal Investigative Division of the US Secret Service are still investigating the case. Vinnik faces up to 50 years in a US prison if found guilty.
Binance Free $100 (Exclusive): Use this link to sign up and get $100 free for the first month and 10% off fees on Binance Futures (terms).
Special PrimeXBT Offer: Use this link to register and enter the POTATO50 code to receive up to $7,000 on your deposits.