Business 3 August 2018Ed Drake
Russia extradition ruling complicates Alexander Vinnik’s case
A new extradition ruling for alleged BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik has introduced further complexity to the legal proceedings, casting doubt on where he will ultimately face justice for his actions.
Vinnik’s case is currently being heard in Greece, where he was arrested in July 2017 on suspicion of laundering more than $4 billion via BTC-e as well as facilitating hacking, fraud, identity theft, tax refund fraud, public corruption and drug trafficking activities during his time in the digital currency market.
This week, a panel of judges in a court in Thessaloniki ruled that Vinnik can be extradited to Russia.
The development complicates Vinnik’s status, given that the extradition requests from France and the United States still pending. Vinnik’s arrest last year was under the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice, with a view to his extradition to the United States.
However, Vinnik is also wanted in France on allegations of defrauding “over 100 people in six French cities between 2016 and 2018.” Extradition could see him face justice in France, as well as ultimately the United States.
With the Russian extradition request now on the table, lawmakers must now consider which of the extradition requests to give preference to—a decision that rests in the hands of the Greek Justice Minister.
Vinnik has strongly denied the accusations against him, saying all payments concerned were legitimate transactions. He said he will fight the perceived dominance of the United States within global financial systems.
Meanwhile, Vinnik’s lawyers have said they intend to appeal the decision of the Supreme Court in Greece over his extradition.
Vinnik’s story has been closely monitored by the cryptocurrency community, as a high profile example of another possible fraudster to emerge from BTC community.
Russia’s foreign ministry has insisted that their extradition request should be given preference over any others, as the home country of the accused. It now rests with lawmakers in Greece to decide Vinnik’s fate, and ultimately whether he will be found guilty and face justice in Russia, France or the United States.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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