Why is Alexander Vinnik accused of money laundering and what is known about one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges.
July 26 in Greece on suspicion of money laundering was detained and then arrested 38-year-old Alexander Vinnik. Later, information appeared about the connection of a Russian with one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges BTC-E, which has coincidentally been unavailable for more than a day.
Continued: In the US, Vinnik was charged, officially tied to BTC-E and suspected of breaking into the Japanese stock exchange Mt.Gox.
How was detained
According to one version , voiced by the media, Vinnik arrived in Greece with his wife and children on July 15. From the city of Thessaloniki, they headed to a resort in Chalkidiki, where they settled in a five-star hotel. California authorities traced Russians to access the network from a mobile phone and contacted local law enforcement. Winnick was detained on July 25, 2017, which became known the next day.
The detainee was searched in the hotel room. The police found and seized laptops, tablets, mobile phones, a router, a camera and four credit cards.
What is blamed
The man, whose name was not disclosed initially, was searched for at the request of the United States. In 2011, he was put on the international wanted list, the Ministry of Justice issued an arrest warrant.
From now on, according to the intelligence services, Vinnik was engaged in criminal activities through the cryptocurrency exchange service. The police called the Russians the owner, the “think tank” and the real leader of the “criminal organization” that owned “one of the leading cybercrime sites in the world”.
Since the founding of the resource Vinnik legalized at least $ 4 billion through bitcoin transactions, follows from the estimates of research organizations in the United States. Where this money could be spent or invested was not reported.
According to the Greek police, Winnick filed several charges at once. Acts are punishable by both US law and Greek law.
- Implementation of unlicensed money transfer business;
- Money laundering in violation of several articles of US federal law;
- Participation in financial transactions with assets that are associated with a particular illegal activity;
- Conspiracy to launder money.
On July 26, Reuters , citing two sources, reported the name of the detained Russian, and which cryptocurrency exchange in question – the Russian-language platform BTC-E. The interlocutors of the agency called Winnick a “key figure” for the site. True, the resource that developed the Russian, the second day is out of access.
What a “criminal exchange”
In 2011, BTC-E was founded by Russian programmers Alexey and Alexander, who allegedly had previously worked at the Skolkovo Technopark. Operators wanted to remain anonymous, although, according to industry media, in 2013, the stock exchange grew to the second largest in Europe. BTC-E used third-party banking services, including in the Czech Republic.
Investors are regularly faced with a delay in depositing funds and transfers through banks. Judging by the BitcoinTalk forum , users complained that their transactions were not carried out for weeks, and the support service was not working.
Against the backdrop of an unpleasant situation, Alexey assured that his business was completely legitimate, and problems were associated with the “influx of users” – from 2-3 thousand to 13-15 thousand daily. In 2013, the number of transfers per day, he said, increased from 15-20 to 200-300. In November-December 2013, the rate of Bitcoin rose sharply and overcame a thousand dollars mark.
In January 2016, BTC-E was added to the register of resources banned in Russia. The decision was made by the Primorsky District Court of St. Petersburg. Representatives of the exchange in response to the ban launched amirror. Now it is also not available.
From July 25, 2017, BTC-E was unavailable to users. According to the company, the problem occurred due to “unscheduled work in the data center.” On the same day , they were told at the stock exchange that “the technical works are close to completion” and promised to share the latest information with customers. Problems are not eliminated so far.
Update2: На данный момент ведутся работы по восстановлению работы сервиса. Примерные сроки от 5 до 10 дней. Спасибо за понимание #btce
— BTC-E (@btcecom) July 26, 2017
Some Twitter users and Reddit have suggested that the exchange was closed or was hacked, and unknown people withdrew an amount equivalent to 169 million dollars. Where did this number come from – is unknown, this information has not yet been confirmed.
What are the Russian authorities doing
The Russian authorities are aware of Vinnik’s arrest, but so far, apparently, they are collecting information about the situation.
The Russian Embassy in Greece stated that it had begun “to take all necessary measures.” Diplomats said they were trying to “secure the legitimate rights and interests” of the detainee. Embassy staff are in contact with both the Greek authorities and Vinnik himself.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented on thearrest of a Russian in response to a Facebook user’s post. According to her, the diplomatic service took the situation “into elaboration”.