Alexander Vinnik, who allegedly founded the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange before running off with everyone’s money, just got a brief reprieve. A district court in Cyprus has reportedly dropped a number of charges that had been levied against Vinnik, according to the RIA Novosti news outlet out of Russia.
The news outlet reports that Vinnik’s lawyers have said that the court withdrew its lawsuit against the accused, which included charges of “fraud, money laundering and other crimes.” In addition, Vinnik might also be compensated “for all legal costs incurred by him.”
The lead lawyer for Vinnik, Timofey Musatov, added, “The defense of Alexander Vinnik, while appreciating the decision taken by the Cyprus court, pays special attention to the fact that the case against Alexander collapsed at an early stage and, importantly, at the initiative of the plaintiffs themselves, which clearly indicates the weakness of the accusatory component against Alexander, the vulnerability of the legal position of the plaintiffs and their unwillingness to bring the case to open legal proceedings.”
The withdrawal doesn’t mark the end of the ordeal for the Russian citizen. Vinnik could be extradited to France or the U.S., or even Russia. All three countries have requested extradition, with France also filing a separate petition through a European Arrest Warrant.
First up could be France, which already saw its extradition request approved this past July. He is accused by French authorities of participating in cybercrime from January 2016 to June 2018, as well as “in another period,” as well as in extortion and money laundering. Whether or not he is sent to France could be decided today, when Vinnik makes another court appearance.
Vinnik had been detained in Greece on request of the U.S. Department of Justice over a year ago. He was picked up in July of last year after authorities asserted that he was connected to money-laundering activity on the now-defunct exchange and that he possibly facilities the illicit movement of as much as $4 billion.
The allegedly scammer has routinely argued that his rights have been violated while being locked away. Most recently, he threated to go on a hunger strike over the issue.
A former cryptocurrency exchange executive accused of using BTC to launder billions of dollars is preparing to go on hunger strike, according to statements issued by his legal team.
Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece at the request of U.S. authorities back in 2017, at the outset of what has become an embittered multi-jurisdictional battle for his extradition. After a ruling in the Greek Supreme Court that Vinnik should be extradited to the U.S., separate petitions from France and Russia have been presented, including a European Arrest Warrant issued by France back in June.
The courts are set to review their decision later this week, considering the multiple vying claims to extradition ahead of deciding how to proceed with Vinnik’s case.
Vinnik’s legal team are agitating for his extradition to his home nation of Russia, having labelled the alternatives as “close to a life sentence,” with the inevitable conclusion of eventual extradition to the United States.
Russian news agency TASS quoted the head of Vinnik’s legal representatives, Timofey Musatov, as saying that the man is now preparing a hunger strike in protest at what he alleges will be an unfair hearing. According to the report, “Alexander Vinnik decided to go on a hunger strike because he realized he was stripped of the right for defense in France and, consequently, in Greece…Moreover, it became clear that the European arrest warrant [issued by France] expired.”
“The Greek Supreme Court’s judge completely ignores the work of lawyers who cannot even file a petition. She does not give them an opportunity to speak or do it. After observing this situation, Alexander realized that he would either get a fair trial or die.” Musatov said. “If there is no fair trial, he will inevitably be deported to the United States through France, where he will get something close to a life sentence, which equals death.”
Vinnik is accused of laundering as much as $9 billion through the now defunct crypto exchange, BTC-e, in what has become one of the most high profile of the outstanding BTC fraud cases.
With authorities in France, Greece, the U.S. and laterally Russia apparently interested in bringing criminal convictions, it remains to be seen whether his planned hunger strike will assist Vinnik in getting his desired outcome.
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The Supreme Court in Greece has been accused of violating the rights of Russian national Alexander Vinnik, the alleged owner of the disgraced crypto trading platform BTC-e. According to local reports, the court has failed to translate essential documents relating to a money laundering case from French to Russian.
Zoe Konstantopoulou, lawyer for Vinnik, told the court that her client had been denied the right to an official translator, which they requested for in November 2017, Russian news agency TASS reported.
In addition to not getting a translator, Konstantopoulou said documents essential to the case had not been translated to Russian, didn’t have seals and signatures. The lawyer accused the court of discrimination on political ground claiming, “You wouldn’t do this with any Greek, or EU citizen.”
Vinnik, who has been detained in Greece since July 25, 2017, is accused of laundering as much as $4 billion through the now defunct BTC-e cryptocurrency platform. He was arrested and detained in Greece after an official request from the American government. After his arrest, Russia has sought Vinnik’s extradition. French authorities also sent a similar request to Greece in June.
In 2017, a Greek Court ruled to have Vinnik extradited to the United States and later on to Russia. Later, a court in Thessaloniki upheld the ruling to have him extradited to France this summer. Vinnik then appealed the decision at the Supreme Court. According to reports, the different extradition requests will likely to be settled by the Greek Ministry of Justice or the country’s leadership.
Authorities in the U.S. have been looking for Vinnik after the closure of BTC-e in July 2017. Federal authorities are seeking a penalty of $110 million from BTC-e platform, plus an additional $12 million from Vinnik in connection with his alleged role in the exchange’s anti-money-laundering (AML) violations.
Vinnik has denied being involved with the platform, saying he was not even an operator of the BTC-e. In addition to BTC-e, Vinnik has been accused of having direct involvement with Mt. Golix incident, which happened in 2011. He also denied these allegations.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.
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