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Alleged BTC-E Admin and Bitcoin Launderer Will Be Extradited to U.S.

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:00 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:00 PM

Alleged bitcoin launderer and BTC-e administrator Alexander Vinnik will be extradited to the United States, a Greek court decided Wednesday morning.

Vinnik, a 37-year-old  Russian national, has been indicted by a U.S. grand jury on 21 counts related to financial crimes. Most notably, he is accused of laundering $4 billion in bitcoin, including funds stolen from Mt. Gox. If convicted, he faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

Vinnik allegedly committed these crimes while operating bitcoin exchange BTC-e, although he claims he was just a technician and the exchange denies he was ever employed by the company.

“I have nothing to do with what I am accused of,” he reportedly claimed during Wednesday’s hearing.

International law enforcement officials seized BTC-e’s domain in July, and Vinnik was arrested soon after while vacationing with his family in Greece. He refused voluntary extradition to the U.S., maintaining that, as a Russian citizen, he should be tried by a Russian court. Russia also submitted an extradition request on separate charges, and Vinnik stated he would voluntarily comply with that request.

However, as reported by the New York Post , a three-judge panel ruled that the U.S. request to extradite Vinnik should be granted. Vinnik is allowed to appeal the decision to the Greek Supreme Court, and he is expected to do so this week.

Previously, Vinnik’s wife told Russian media outlet RT that she believes the U.S. wants to exploit Vinnik’s intellectual and technical abilities and has concocted these charges as a pretense to force him to work for them.

BTC-e, meanwhile, was hit with a $110 million fine by FinCEN but has recently relaunched under new management as WEX. According to CoinMarketCap, it processed more than $40 million in trading volume during the past day, making it the 12th most popular exchange. WEX’s BTC/USD pair ranks seventh on the list of bitcoin’s highest-volume trading pairs.