Alleged Bitcoin Launderer and BTC-E Admin Likely to Stand Trial in U.S.

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Alleged bitcoin launderer and BTC-e administrator Alexander Vinnik is likely to stand trial in the U.S. after a Greek court denied his appeal against the extradition order.

Earlier this year, Greek courts had approved extradition requests from both the U.S. and Russia. Vinnik said that he would voluntarily comply with the Russian extradition order, but he appealed the U.S. request to the Supreme Court.

However, Greece’s top court denied Vinnik’s appeal on Wednesday, according to a Reuters report.

“The Supreme Court’s decision was expected, it is a decision on an appeal on the same decision of the Thessaloniki court. There are more opportunities for legal work which will be carried out now,” Vinnik’s lawyer, Timofey Musatov, said on Wednesday, as cited by Sputnik.

Vinnik, 38, is wanted in the U.S. for allegedly laundering more than $4 billion in bitcoins, including funds stolen from the now-defunct bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. A grand jury has indicted him on 21 counts, for which he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.

At the behest of the U.S., local authorities arrested Vinnik, a Russian national, earlier this year while he was vacationing in Greece. Vinnik and his legal team have protested that he should stand trial in Russia, where he has been indicted on minor fraud charges involving an alleged $10,500 theft.

BTC-e, the bitcoin exchange Vinnik allegedly ran, was seized by authorities at the time of his arrest. The exchange — which ultimately rebranded and relaunched as WEX — denied that Vinnik was ever employed by the company, while Vinnik maintains that he was merely a technician.

The Russian government has been highly critical of the Greek justice system for approving the U.S. extradition order and has argued that, under international law, Russia’s request should take precedence since Vinnik is a Russian citizen.

Greece’s justice minister will make the final extradition decision, but the Supreme Court’s ruling does not bode well for Vinnik’s desire to avoid standing trial in the U.S.

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Josiah is an assistant editor at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. He holds investment positions in bitcoin and other large-cap cryptocurrencies. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.