A new contender for an exchange with Viktor Bout. Russian Alexander Vinnik appeared before the US court for the first time. Greece secretly betrayed him to the Americans.
According to the US Department of Justice, which is available to Rucriminal.info, after more than five years of litigation, Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the United States yesterday to hold him accountable for the activities of BTC-e, a criminal cryptocurrency exchange that laundered more than 4 billion dollars in criminal proceeds.
Alexander Vinnik, 42, a Russian citizen, was indicted in January 2017 on 21 counts, replacing the indictment. Vinnik was taken into custody in Greece in July 2017 at the request of the United States. Today, he made his first appearance in federal court in San Francisco before U.S. Justice of the Peace Sally Kim.
According to the indictment, Vinnik and his co-conspirators allegedly owned, operated and administered BTC-e, a large online cybercrime and money laundering organization that allowed its users to trade bitcoin with a high level of anonymity and developed a customer base heavily dependent on criminal activity.
The indictment alleges that the BTC-e exchange facilitated the transactions of cybercriminals around the world and derived criminal proceeds from numerous computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corrupt government officials and drug distribution groups, as well as has been used to facilitate crimes ranging from computer hacking to fraudulent tax refund schemes, government corruption and drug trafficking. The investigation showed that BTC-e received more than $4 billion worth of bitcoins during its operation.
Despite significant business in the United States, the indictment alleges that BTC-e was not registered as a money services business with the US Treasury Department, lacked an anti-money laundering process, lacked a system for a proper "know your customer" or " KYC verification” and lack of an anti-money laundering program as required by federal law.
In 2017, FinCEN imposed a civil monetary fine on BTC-e for willfully violating U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) laws and on Vinnik for his role in the violations. A civil lawsuit seeking civil monetary penalties of $88,596,314 for BTC-e and $12 million for Vinnik is pending in the Northern District of California.
The indictment charges BTC-e and Vinnik with one count of an unlicensed money service business and one count of conspiracy to launder money. In addition, the indictment charges Vinnik with 17 counts of money laundering and two counts of participation in illegal money transactions.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit (Oakland Field Office and Cybercrime Unit, Washington, DC), the National Security Investigation Unit, and the US Secret Service's Criminal Investigation Unit.
Now let's move on to the story around Vinnik, which was told about by the telegram channel of the Cheka-OGPU.
Vinnik managed to get the funds after a hacker attack on the Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox in 2014. Then 850 thousand bitcoins were stolen, of which 306 thousand were withdrawn to electronic wallets associated with BTC-e.
After Alexander Vinnik got into trouble with the law in 2017, his partner and exchange administrator with the nickname admin, Alexei Bilyuchenko, leaked the keys to most of the crypto wallets that held 65,000 bitcoins (at the then exchange rate - 650 million. dollars, then more than 1 billion dollars).
Squeezed data from Bilyuchenko and organized the withdrawal of money none other than Konstantin Malofeev. To do this, he attracted "people from the FSB." Of these people, Anton Nemkin is known today, who really was an officer of the 1st service of the FSB. "People from the FSB" pretended to detain Bilyuchenko, kept him under guard for several days, even organized an interrogation on the Kuznetsk bridge, and in the end they achieved what they wanted - he handed over the keys.
"Russian crypto-exchange WEX" - the second move.
The founders of WEX were: Alexander Borodai (former leader of the DPR, former PR man and Malofeev’s eternal accomplice), Dmitry Khavchenko, nicknamed “Sailor” (also a prominent leader of the DPR), resident of the High-Tech Park of Belarus Dmitry Vasilyev (Malofeev’s IT specialist).
In parallel, in Vladivostok, Malofeev's son Kirill registered Vladeks LLC (Valdex). On this site, Malofeev Sr., with his current political ally, and then presidential adviser Sergei Glazyev, planned to open the National Russian Crypto Exchange. The go-ahead was expected from the very top, and Glazyev lobbied for it. He scribbled notes in support of the exchange addressed to the president, and branded all those who did not share his plans as traitors to Russia and enemies of the national economy. Glazyev even blabbed at the economic forum in Vladivostok that Valdex was created almost on behalf of the president. In the same place, at the forum, Anton Nemkin also appeared next to Glazyev.
It did not work out with the National Exchange: despite all the efforts of Glazyev, Putin did not support the project, and the Wex exchange collapsed loudly and with a scandal - the main part of the cryptocurrency that remained on the accounts of clients disappeared with it. And this is Malofeev's third move.
Money stolen from users of now two exchanges had to be withdrawn. Timofey Musatov and Natalya Kasperskaya, the owners of Neklis Bank, helped Malofeev in this. Apparently, this was not the first such experience for the bank - in 2019, the Central Bank revoked Neklis's license for numerous violations, and three criminal cases were opened.
Money for Vinnik's defense was also allocated by Natalya Kasperskaya - she paid 248 million rubles to lawyer Timofey Musatov. And then the lawyer Musatov mysteriously died. According to the official version, he slipped on the stairs in a pub in the south-west of Moscow (six months after receiving the money), hit his head and died soon after.
Timofey Musatov was found dead at his home. The incident was written off as an accident. But now all three criminal cases related to Malofeev's scams have been attributed to Musatov.
A person like Vinnik, of course, cannot be left in the USA for a long time. He is the No. 1 contender for the exchange along with Viktor Bout.
To be continued