BTC-e Connected to Bitcoin Money Laundering Arrest in Greece

Stan Higgins
Jul 26, 2017 at 16:43 UTC
NEWS

One of the world's oldest bitcoin exchanges has been offline for more than a day – and breaking news reports are now connecting the outage to an arrest this morning in Greece.

Amid the outage, bitcoin users have been moving to connect the two stories, which suggests one of the operators of BTC-e, a bitcoin exchange long infamous for its mysterious operations and lack of public disclosures, has been apprehended.

Among the clues that has emerged is that one of the administrators of the site, known only as Alexander, shares a name with the individual arrested in Greece, 38-year-old Alexander Vinnik, who authorities allege laundered "$4 billion in cash...through a bitcoin platform since 2011."

Adding to the context is that BTC-e has been largely silent or non-descriptive about its issues. The last tweet from the exchange, for example, was 20 hours ago, when the exchange said that it "still continue[s] to perform our unscheduled ongoing maintenance."

BTC-e had previously said that it was doing data center work and that access would become limited. The site remains inaccessible, though a maintenance page is currently visible along with a feed of the exchange's recent tweets.

Though BTC-e has gone offline in the past, this particular outage has caused particular concern for some given overnight reports that coins connected to BTC-e wallets were moved.

A representative for BTC-e did not respond to a request for comment via Skype.

Vinnik, according to reports, was detained for money laundering, conspiracy and transacting in cash obtained through illegal means. US authorities are reportedly seeking to extradite him based on a warrant drafted earlier this year in California. As of press time, no public records were available regarding the warrant.

According to Reuters, citing unnamed sources, Vinnik is "connected to [the] BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange."

The arrest comes amid a broader international crackdown that has resulted in the closures of AlphaBay and Hansa, two of the world's most popular dark markets.

CoinDesk will continue monitoring this developing story.

Police line image via Shutterstock

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