Alexander Vinnik, the alleged launderer of $4 billion in Bitcoin (BTC), is having his trial underway in Paris, France.
Picking Your Battles
While there are reported links between Vinnik and the hack of Mt. Gox, stealing 300,000 BTC back in 2014, it seems the prosecutors are picking their battles. The prosecutors are going after him regarding a ransomware fraud worth 135 million Euros, or about $159 million. This fraud targeted French organizations and businesses between the years of 2016 and 2018
The Associated Press, a news outlet, showed that Vinnik, a Russian national, stands charged with money laundering, extortion, and criminal association. This comes after 20 entities found themselves victims of the “Locky” ransomware, opting to pay the Bitcoin ransom through BTC-e.
A Heavy Set Of Charges Against Vinnik
It’s alleged that Vinnik stands as one of the creators of the malware, as well as being one of the former operators of the crypto exchange, now defunct. Of course, Vinnik himself claims that he only served as one of BTC-e’s technical consultants, claiming that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing.
Should the man be found guilty, he will face a prison sentence of up to ten years.
Three Countries Want A Piece Of Vinnik
Vinnik has had an interesting mixture of events fall his way. The man was first arrested back in 2017 in Greece, having been detained by the request of US authorities. A legal tug-of-war followed after that, since prosecutors in the US, France, and even Russia all want a piece of him. Vinnik himself had shown preference to be extradited back to his home country, as he faces lesser charges in Russia.
The Greek court settled the matter, concluding that he will be first extradited to France, then to the US, then lastly to Russia. It seems the man is going to have a very interesting time in his life.
After the man was extradited to France, Russian authorities tried unsuccessfully yet again to request that he be returned to the country, on the condition that he would be subject to house arrest. Of course, this failed, since all three countries want a piece of him.
Once the US gets its hands on him, Vinnik will most likely face charges regarding the Mt. Gox hack, worth $4 billion. It’s alleged that the stolen BTC, 300,000 in total, was laundered by way of the BTC-e exchange, going through Vinnik’s personal wallet, in turn.