The trustee responsible for administering the defunct Mt. Gox exchange has asked the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) for more information about Alexander Vinnik, the founder of the controversial BTC-e exchange.
Trustee Nobuaki Kobayashi has asked the U.S. justice department to provide more details on its investigation into the former executive, which ultimately led to the closure of the BTC-e exchange.
The Rehabilitation Trustee has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice through a U.S. law firm, and seeking further information.
It has been suggested that BTC-e may have been involved in laundering funds stolen in the hack of Mt. Gox, which makes Vinnik and the Department of Justice investigation of interest to the ongoing Mt. Gox case.
It remains unclear how the trustee intends to use the information, though the DoJ submission is expected to uncover more details about Vinnik and BTC-e’s alleged involvement. BTC-e was shut down after U.S. authorities indicted the firm on 21 counts, including accusations the firm was running an international money laundering operation.
The Russian-based exchange previously handled some 5% of total bitcoin volume, with reports suggesting as much as 95% of crypto ransomware payouts running through BTC-e.
Vinnik was arrested in the summer of 2017 in Greece, at the insistence of the U.S. authorities on a number of counts relating to financial crimes and fraud.
At the time, the U.S. filed an extradition request, which was approved by a Greek court. However, this was followed by competing extradition requests from Russia and France on separate charges. The Russian extradition request was also upheld by Greek courts after diplomatic pressure, and was subsequently accepted by Vinnik, a Russian citizen.
However, some commentators have suggested the Russian charges could be an attempt to get Vinnik a more lenient sentence, with a small fine likely, in place of a potential 55-year jail term in the U.S.
For the time being, Vinnik remains in prison in Greece. With his involvement in the collapse of Mt. Gox likely to shine a further light on the activities of the exchange, it looks like there are more twists and turns to come.
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