BTC-e Alexander Vinnik money laundering trial begins in Paris

A court in Paris has begun hearing the trial against alleged crypto money launder Alexander Vinnik this week, as the high profile criminal case against him finally gets underway.

The Russian national is accused of laundering some $4 billion of BTC stolen from the 2014 hack on cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox, as well as several other significant frauds and money laundering scams.

The present case is focusing on Vinnik’s alleged involvement in ransomware fraud to the tune of $159 million, after a spate of attacks on French businesses and organizations between 2016 and 2018.

Vinnik is being tried on counts of extortion, money laundering and criminal association, following the series of attacks, which ultimately led to 20 victims paying ransom demands issued in BTC in connection with the malware, the Associated Press reported.

Alleged to be the mastermind behind the ‘Locky’ malware, as well as a former operator of the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, which handled ransom payments from the malware’s victims, Vinnik maintains his role only as a technical consultant.

The case against Vinnik dates back to his arrest in 2017, when he was detained by law enforcement in Greece at the request of the United States. Legal wrangling ensued between the U.S., France, and subsequently his home country of Russia, with competing extradition bids filed against him.

Following a protracted court battle, the Greek courts decided Vinnik would be extradited to France, then the United States, then Russia, in order to face the charges against him in each respective country.

If found guilty in Paris, Vinnik can expect to be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison. Should he eventually stand trial in the U.S., a court will rule on the $4 billion money laundering charges, which are likely to carry even stiffer penalties.

See also: CoinGeek Live panel on The Future of Digital Asset Security & Custody.

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