Former WEX CEO Dmitri Vasilev was arrested in Italy on July 19, according to a BBC report. The story cited two anonymous investors who claim that the former CEO was arrested, although the attaché to the Russian embassy in Italy refused to comment on the story.
The arrest culminated from a series of events that inevitably lead to charges being filed against Vasilev. It all began when he opted to try to sell WEX to Dmitri Khavchenko, nicknamed “the Sailor.” Almost immediately a conflict developed between Khavchenko and the team at WEX, and shortly after a number of private keys disappeared.
What was soon discovered was that about $19 million had been transferred to the crypto exchange service Binance, probably done by the administrative official who had taken the private keys. This led to the immediate freezing of all accounts at WEX. This occurred in July 2018, and the funds have not been released since.
WEX had already begun under a cloud of suspicion. The company was the successor to BTC-e, an exchange which was seized by U.S. law enforcement officials in 2017. A number of senior officials were arrested at that time.
For Vasilev, WEX looked to be his second chance to fix the mistakes that occurred at the prior company. However, suspicion has surrounded the company ever since. Just a few months ago, a report found that two Iranians had created a ransomware that quickly became tied to the exchange. It was not long before additional allegations were made that WEX was laundering millions of dollars.
In the fall of 2018, police in several countries including Russia began investigations into the company and its former CEO. A criminal investigation was begun in the nation of Kazakhstan as well as in the Russian city of Tolyatti. Many investors who had lost their money even wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking that he take some kind of step to bring about justice and return the funds to those who had been defrauded.
With so much nefarious activity surrounding WEX, it was only a matter of time before DmirtiVasilev found himself behind bars. According to the filing by prosecutors in Russia:
I believe that the actions of this site contain elements of a crime under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation Fraud, that is, theft of someone else’s property or the acquisition of the right to someone else’s property by deception or abuse of trust, and Article 274 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. transmission of computer information and information and telecommunication networks, resulting in major damage.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.