Alleged Russian crypto-crime boss Alexander Vinnik extradited to San Francisco

Alleged Russian crypto-crime boss Alexander Vinnik extradited to San Francisco
Alleged Russian crypto-crime boss Alexander Vinnik extradited to San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO – Alexander Vinnik, the alleged operator of an illegal cryptocurrency exchange used to launder billions of dollars, has been extradited from Greece to San Francisco to stand trial on federal charges.

Vinnik, who ran the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, arrived in San Francisco on Thursday.

“After more than five years of legal proceedings, Russian national Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the United States yesterday to be held responsible for operating BTC-e, a criminal cryptocurrency exchange, which laundered more than $4 billion in criminal proceeds,” said Assistant Attorney General . Kenneth A. Polite, Jr.

Vinnik, 42, was charged in a 21-count superseding indictment in January 2017. He was taken into custody in Greece in July 2017 at the request of the United States.

He made his first appearance Friday in federal court in San Francisco before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim.

According to the indictment, Vinnik and his co-conspirators allegedly owned, operated and managed BTC-e which allowed users to trade bitcoin with high levels of anonymity and developed a customer base heavily dependent on criminal activity.

The indictment alleges that BTC-e facilitated transactions for cybercriminals worldwide and received criminal proceeds from numerous computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware, identity theft, corrupt government officials and drug distribution rings.

The funds were used to facilitate crimes ranging from computer hacking, to fraud, identity theft, tax refund fraud, public corruption and drug trafficking.

The investigation has revealed that BTC-e received more than $4 billion in bitcoin during its operation.

In 2017, FinCEN assessed a civil monetary penalty against BTC-e for willful violations of US anti-money laundering laws and against Vinnik for his role in the violations.

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A civil suit to enforce monetary penalties of $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 with one count of operating an unlicensed money services business and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

In addition, the indictment charges Vinnik with 17 cases of money laundering and two cases of having participated in illegal monetary transactions.

The FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and the US Secret Service Criminal Investigative Division are investigating the case.

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