Alleged BTC-e owner arrested for money laundering, suspected of involvement in Mt Gox theft

Alleged BTC-e owner arrested for money laundering, suspected of involvement in Mt Gox theft

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lexander Vinnik, the Russian national who was arrested in Greece on a US warrant, has been accused of involvement in the laundering of $4 billion through the major cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, reports Reuters.

According to the US Justice Department, Vinnik, as an operator of the BTC-e exchange has helped launder through Bitcoin operations funds from criminal activities, including drug trafficking and computer hacking. The US authorities think that Vinnik has also received funds “from the infamous computer intrusion or ‘hack’ of Mt Gox.”

Mt Gox was a major Bitcoin exchange at its time. In 2014 it was hacked and from it were stolen 850 000 Bitcoins, worth USD 450 million back then. The authorities believe that Vinnik has obtained part of the stolen tokens and laundered them through BTC-e and Tradehill, another San Francisco-based exchange he owned.

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Photo: Reuters/Alexandros Avramidis

The US Attorney’s Office in California’s northern district said the indictment covered “operating an unlicensed money service business, money laundering and related crimes. Allegedly Vinnik conducted substantial business in the United States without following appropriate protocols to protect against money laundering and other crimes.

So far Vinnik has not been able to make a public comment on the accusations. If he is extradited to the US and found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a massive fine.

Meanwhile, BTC-e, which is based in Russia, is down for a third day in a row and shows a maintenance message.

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