Alleged Bitcoin Money Launderer Has First Extradition Hearing

Alleged BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik has had his first extradition hearing after being arrested in Greece on charges of money laundering.

AccessTimeIconOct 2, 2017 at 10:01 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:59 a.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Alleged former BTC-e employee Alexander Vinnik appeared in a Greek court on Friday for the first of what could be several hearings to determine where he will ultimately stand trial.

Arrested in July by authorities on behalf of the U.S. government, Vinnik was charged with money laundering, computer hacking, fraud and drug trafficking alongside his former employer, bitcoin exchange BTC-e. However, the trial is perhaps best seen as the first step in a larger tug-of-war that will find the Greek justice minister deciding where a judge will hear the case.

At issue will likely be the now-murky details of Vinnik's role at the company. For example, while BTC-e originally claimed it had no association with Vinnik, in his first interview after being arrested, he admitted he worked for the exchange. The U.S. government has also taken a different stance on his involvement, framing him as the "operator" of BTC-e.

Further complicating matters, is that Vinnik, a Russian national, is also wanted for fraud charges in his home country. According to Russia Today, he has agreed to be extradited to Russia, though no hearing date on that matter has yet been set.

Both countries claim Vinnik laundered some $4 billion through BTC-e over the course of six years. One of the oldest bitcoin exchanges, BTC-e was shut down after being raided by U.S. authorities in July.

Despite its troubles, the exchange is attempting a revival. On September 15, its Twitter page announced a replacement exchange called Wex.

Dollars and handcuffs image via Shutterstock

Disclosure

Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.


Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.