Former Russian ice hockey player Igor Musatov has been arrested for his involvement in an alleged cryptocurrency scam, according to the Russian information agency TASS.
According to reports, Musatov was arrested on September 15 for his alleged involvement in a BTC fraud scheme that cost one victim about $700,000. It was reported that he had been on a wanted list and had already been charged in absentia. However, as of September 15 he was in police custody and is expected to be so for at least 30 days while it is determined whether he can be released or not.
In court filings, prosecutors allege that Musatovhad talked a businessman into purchasing 103 BTC from him in January 2018. The victim, identified as software entrepreneur Abelyan V.M., was asked to pay 45 million rubles. According to Abelyan, the former hockey player explained that he needed the money to purchase a new apartment.
The software entrepreneur agreed that he would deliver the money to Musatov prior to the bitcoin being transferred. However, that never occurred. That is when Abelyan contacted law enforcement officials.
In September 2018, investigators from the Department of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs began to investigate the complaint against Musatov. By January, they had concluded that Musatov had deceived the software entrepreneur.
Attorneys for the former hockey star have disputed the charges. In a statement, a spokesman for Musatov explained, “We believe that the relations that had risen as a result of the exchange of cryptocurrencies are exclusively civil. Criminal prosecution is out of question.”
In his recent appearance in court, attorneys explained that there is clearly a misunderstanding related to the charges. They further asserted that he would be able to present evidence which would show he is innocent.
This is another step by Russian law enforcement authorities to target those involved in virtual currency scams. That has not always been easy, as the legal status of virtual currencies in Russia has not been defined. Lawmakers in the country have been working on legislation for a number of years related to cryptocurrencies, but nothing has been officially passed. This has possibly led many to believe that they are immune from prosecution should they get involved in these kinds of scams.
Musatov playerd several seasons in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He played most recently for the Slovakian club, HC Slovan Bratislava, appearing in the 2016-17 season. In 359 career games, he scored 45 goals and added 38 assists. He is married to two-time Olympic gold catalyst Evgenia Kanaeva.
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