Bitcoin

Alleged Russian Bitcoin Launderer Extradited To U.S.

The extradition of a Russian man accused of laundering billions of dollars in Bitcoin is being made possible thanks to a Greek Supreme Court ruling.

According to a report in Reuters, Alexander Vinnik, the accused mastermind behind a $4 billion Bitcoin laundering network, is among the seven Russians arrested or indicted for cybercrimes in the U.S. Vinnik had been in a village in northern Greece since the end of July when he was arrested. Moscow also wants him home, in a stance similar to that which the Russian government has taken in regards to others of its nationals wanted by the U.S.

Vinnik is appealing the ruling that he can be extradited, noted the report. He is accused of operating BTC-e, a cryptocurrency exchange that traded in Bitcoin but was used to bankroll crimes such as hacking and drug trafficking as far back as 2011. What’s more, according to Reuters, officials in the U.S. have linked him to the collapse of Mt. Gox, a Japanese Bitcoin exchange that was hacked in 2014 and eventually went under. Vinnik reportedly received funds from the hack and laundered them via the BTC-e exchange and Tradehill, another exchange he owned and operated.

Vinnik faces 55 years in prison if he is brought back to the U.S. He denies all charges lodged against him, and is also denying allegations he committed fraud in Russia — though he did sign off on being sent back to the country.  

“We hope and expect a better outcome,” said Alexandros Lykourezos, the lawyer leading Vinnik’s defense, according to Reuters. 

The report noted that if Vinnik losing on appeal, the final ruling will come from Greece’s justice minister who can sign off on extradition to one country and block extradition to the other.

“We have faith in the Greek justice system and [have] a long road ahead of us,” said another of Vinnik’s lawyers, Xanthippi Moisidou, Reuters reported.

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