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Russian Accused Of Illegal Bitcoin Scheme Moved To Greek Prison

Russian Aleksandr Vinnik (center) is escorted by police as he arrives at a courthouse in Thessaloniki on July 26, 2017.

A Russian man accused by U.S. officials of running a $4 billion money laundering scheme using the virtual currency bitcoin has been transferred to a Greek prison.

Aleksandr Vinnik, 38, was arrested on July 26 in Greece at the request of U.S. law enforcement officials, who unsealed an indictment against him on the same day.

A Greek official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Vinnik on July 28 was being held at a Greek prison as U.S. officials seek his extradition.

The U.S. Justice Department said in its indictment that Vinnik, who is also known by the nickname Sasha Vemye, was the operator of BTC-e, a currency exchange used to trade the digital bitcoins since 2011.

In Russia, it’s one of the biggest such exchanges known for people looking to cash out large amounts of bitcoins into currency like dollars, euros, or rubles.

U.S. officials allege that Vinnik and BTC-e obtained funds from a Japan-based bitcoin exchange which collapsed in 2014 after being hacked.

A sizeable portion of the stolen funds stolen from the exchange, known as Mt Gox, were deposited in accounts controlled, owned, and operated by BTC-e and Vinnik, according to the indictment

Vinnik is the latest Russian citizen to be accused by the United States of cyber-related crimes, arrested in third countries, and then subject to extradition proceedings.

Moscow has complained vociferously that U.S. officials were “kidnapping” Russian citizens abroad.

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