The trial of Alexander Vinnick, who allegedly laundering a massive $4 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) is currently underway in Paris, France. Even though there are reported links between the hack of the crypto exchange Mt. Gox that happened in 2014 where 300,000 BTC were stolen and Vinnick, the prosecutors have decided to pick their battles. They have chosen to go after Vinnik for a ransomware fraud that was worth $159 million or 135 million euros. French businesses and organizations were targeted by the fraud between 2016 and 2018. A news outlet by the name of The Associated Press reported that Russian national Vinnik is being charged with extortion, money laundering, and criminal association.
These charges were made after almost 20 entities discovered that they had been victimized by the ‘Locky’ ransomware and had chosen to pay the Bitcoin ransom via BTC-e. The allegations made against Vinnik highlight him as one of the creators of this malware, and also one of the former operators of the now-defunct crypto exchange. Of course, Vinnik said that he had only served as one of the technical consultants for BTC-e and he didn’t have any knowledge about any wrongdoing, whatsoever. If the man is found guilty, he will be facing a prison sentence of about 10 years.
There have been some interesting events that have occurred where Vinnik is involved. Back in 2017, he was first arrested in Greece and was detained on the request of the U.S. authorities. After that happened, a legal tug-of-war ensued because prosecutors of different countries were all interested in getting a piece of him, which included Russia, France and the United States. As far as Vinnik himself is concerned, he wished to be extradited to his home country because this meant that he would be facing reduced charges in Russia than anywhere else.
The matter was settled by the Greek court, which concluded that he would first be extradited to France, then to the United States, and then finally to Russia. It seems that the man was going to have a very interesting time ahead. Once he had been extradited to France, Russian authorities again unsuccessfully requested that he be returned to his home country, stating that he would be placed under house arrest. Once again, this didn’t work because all three countries wanted a piece of him. Once he will be extradited to the United States, there is a good chance that he will face charges dealing with the hack of the Mt. Gox exchange worth $4 billion.
According to allegations, a total of 300,000 Bitcoin (BTC) were stolen in the hack and they were all laundered through the BTC-e exchange. In fact, it is also said that the coins went through Vinnik’s personal wallet as well. There is no doubt that the Mt. Gox hack was one of the most notorious ones in the crypto space and the exchange has yet to recover from it, even after six years. Therefore, Vinnik could be facing some really tough challenges.