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Alleged Russian cryptocurrency money launderer extradited to United States | GRANDPA

The suspected operator of illegal cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e was extradited from Greece to the United States yesterday to face indictment in the Northern District of California.

“After more than five years of litigation, Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the United States yesterday to face accountability for operating BTC-e, a criminal cryptocurrency exchange that laundered more than $4 billion in criminal proceeds to become,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This extradition demonstrates the Department’s commitment to investigating and combating illegal cyber activity and would not have been possible without the tireless work of the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs. The Ministry of Justice thanks the Greek Government, in particular the Ministry of Justice, for all their efforts to ensure the transfer of the accused to the United States.”

Alexander Vinnik, 42, a Russian citizen, was indicted in January 2017 on 21 counts. Vinnik was taken into custody in Greece in July 2017 at the request of the United States. He made his first appearance before US Judge Sallie Kim in federal court in San Francisco today.

According to the indictment, Vinnik and his co-conspirators allegedly owned, operated and managed BTC-e, a major cybercrime and online money laundering entity that enabled its users to trade Bitcoin with a high degree of anonymity and build a heavily dependent customer base via criminal activity .

The indictment alleges that BTC-e facilitated transactions for cybercriminals worldwide and obtained criminal proceeds from numerous computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware fraud, identity theft, corrupt officials and drug distribution rings, and was used to facilitate crimes committed by computer hacking is enough. Fraud, identity theft, tax refund fraud, public corruption and drug trafficking. The investigation revealed that BTC-e received more than $4 billion worth of bitcoin over the course of its operations.

Although BTC-e does sizable business in the United States, the indictment alleges that BTC-e was not registered as a money services business with the US Treasury Department, had no anti-money laundering procedures, no system of appropriate “know your customer” or “KYC” verification and no anti-money laundering program as required by federal law.

In 2017, FinCEN issued a civil fine against BTC-e for willful violations of US anti-money laundering (AML) laws and against Vinnik for his role in the violations. A civil lawsuit seeking civil penalties totaling $88,596,314 for BTC-e and $12 million for Vinnik is pending in the Northern District of California.

The indictment charges BTC-e and Vinnik on one count of operating an unlicensed money services business and on one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. In addition, the indictment charges Vinnik with 17 counts of money laundering and two counts of involvement in illicit monetary transactions.

The FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation (Oakland Field Office and Cyber ​​Crime Unit, Washington, DC), Homeland Security Investigations and the Criminal Investigative Division of the US Secret Service are investigating the case.

Trial Attorney C. Alden Pelker of the Department of Justice’s Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Division and Assistant US Attorney Claudia Quiroz of the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California are prosecuting the case.

The Department of Justice’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team provided significant assistance. The extradition request was processed by the Department of Justice’s International Affairs Office.

The Ministry of Justice thanks the Greek Ministry of Justice for its cooperation in ensuring the transfer of the accused to the United States.

An accusation is just an allegation. All accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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