U.S. Department of Justice extradites Russian BTC-e Operator

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) informed on Friday that Alexander Vinnik, a 42-year-old Russian, has been extradited from Greece to the United States. The Russian is brought in to face numerous charges connecting to money laundering and operating an illegal cryptocurrency exchange. However, this is not the first time he has faced trouble with the DOJ.

Vinnik first got into a legal crisis with the DOJ in 2017 for operating the now-defunct crypto trading platform BTC-e in the U.S. without appropriate authorization and supporting criminals to launder at least $4 billion through Bitcoin.

An Extradition Altercation

That same year (2017), he was arrested in Greece at the proposition of the U.S. government. Following his arrest, Vinnik’s assets, worth $90 million, were seized by police in New Zealand police. At the time, the authorities mentioned that BTC-e allegedly had no anti-money laundering guidelines, therefore enabling a range of cybercrimes, including laundering illegal proceeds, ransomware attacks, theft, fraud, and drug crimes. 

In January 2020, the 42-year-old was deported to France after a years-long extradition altercation between Russia, France, and the United States. 

After his extradition to France, Vinnik denied the allegations and asked for a transfer to Russia. The demand was made as he faces lesser criminal charges i.e. $11,000. However, his request was rejected by a Paris-based judge who judged that he would face charges in France for cheating at least 100 people through ransomware between 2016 and 2018.

In December 2020, French prosecutors convicted Vinnik of five years in prison for money laundering. Regardless, he was exonerated of the initial allegation that he had fooled people via ransomware. 

Also read, Mississippi woman faces 10 years jail time for paying for murder in Bitcoin

The U.S. DOJ Extradites Vinnik from Greece


Last week on Thursday, the criminal was moved back to Greece and deported to the U.S. He now faces 21 charges, including operating an unlicensed money service business, conspiracy to execute money laundering, money laundering, and unlawful monetary transactions. 

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division mentions that after more than five years of litigation, Russian national Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the United States to be held accountable for operating BTC-e, an illegal cryptocurrency exchange, which laundered more than $4 billion of criminal proceeds.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations, and the Secret Service Criminal Investigative Division are still investigating the case. Vinnik endangers spending up to 50 years in an American prison if found guilty.

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