Mt. Gox's Hackers Are 2 Russian Nationals, U.S. DOJ Alleges in Indictment

One of the individuals also operated BTC-e, the DOJ alleged.

AccessTimeIconJun 9, 2023 at 3:04 p.m. UTC
Updated Jun 9, 2023 at 6:19 p.m. UTC
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The U.S. Department of Justice charged Russian nationals Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner with the 2014 Mt. Gox hack, at the time one of the biggest thefts in crypto history.

The two "gained unauthorized access" to Mt. Gox's wallets around September 2011, the DOJ said in a press release Friday announcing the unsealing of a 2019 indictment, stealing 647,000 BTC over the course of nearly three years. These funds were then laundered.

The DOJ alleged that Bilyuchenko was also an operator of defunct crypto exchange BTC-e, alongside Alexander Vinnick who was previously charged with operating BTC-e.

The DOJ also unsealed a 2016 filing focused on BTC-e, which has long been linked to funds laundered from the Mt. Gox theft.

Both face charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering, while Bilyuchenko also faces a charge of operating an unlicensed money services business. The DOJ's Southern District of New York and Northern District of California offices both brought cases tied to the Mt. Gox hack.

Mt. Gox halted transactions in February 2014, shortly after Messari founder Ryan Selkis published an internal document suggesting it had lost nearly 750,000 BTC.

In a statement, DOJ Assistant Attorney Kenneth Polite said called the unsealing an important milestone.

"As alleged in the indictments, starting in 2011, Bilyuchenko and Verner stole a massive amount of cryptocurrency from Mt. Gox, contributing to the exchange’s ultimate insolvency," he said. "Armed with the ill-gotten gains from Mt. Gox, Bilyuchenko allegedly went on to help set up the notorious BTC-e virtual currency exchange, which laundered funds for cyber criminals worldwide."

The DOJ also alleged that Bilyuchenko, Verner and other unnamed co-conspirators used an unnamed New York-based bitcoin brokerage service to launder funds, ultimately moving over $6.6 million into "overseas bank accounts."

The brokerage helped launder over 300,000 BTC, the DOJ alleged.

The documents further alleged that the defendants sent the funds to both BTC-e and TradeHill, another defunct exchange.

Jack Schickler and Anna Baydakova contributed reporting.

UPDATE (June 9, 2023, 15:25 UTC): Adds additional detail, corrects that the hack is commonly referred to as the 2014 hack based on the date it was discovered.

UPDATE (June 9, 15:35 UTC): Adds context around Mt. Gox hack.

UPDATE (June 9, 15:55 UTC): Adds additional details from the documents.


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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.

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