BTC-e owner Alexander Vinnik seeks bail on trial delay

abdelaziz Fathi

Alexander Vinnik, accused of running the infamous crypto exchange BTC-e, argued that he should be released on bail due to delays in court proceedings, according to information posted on a California federal court’s website.

Alexander Vinnik

The Russian IT specialist’s defense team has also requested that all trial-related documents to be submitted within 60 days. Calling the case a “judicial, diplomatic and humanitarian scandal,” the lawyers said prosecutors have not provided the documents required for his trial three months after extradition to the US. Vinnik has been in custody for over 3 months to answer to charges of money laundering through the failed BTC-e exchange.

The defense team is fighting to be released on bail after the US government has failed to uphold its commitments in furthering his court proceedings. In the appeal, the presumed co-founder and operator of the notorious crypto exchange said prosecutors broke their promises to give evidence in this case.

Vinnik faces charges of extortion, money laundering and involvement in a malicious software attack. Furthermore, US authorities said that he was the brain behind the collapse of Japan-based bitcoin exchange, MtGox, after which he laundered the stolen monies through BTC-e and another San Francisco-based exchange called Tradehill. If found guilty, he could receive a sentence of up to 55 years.

The alleged Russian hacker, accused of laundering $4 billion of criminal proceeds through BTC-e, was extradited from Greece to the United States in early August.

In 2021, the Paris’ Court of Appeals sentenced the 43-year-old Russian to five years in prison on money laundering charges. Vinnik’s defence team attempted to appeal the Court’s previous decision in May.

Vinnik is suspected of being one of the brains of Locky, a ransomware strain that hit French businesses and organizations on a large scale between 2016 and 2018. The infamous software had allegedly yielded nearly $160 million for its creators, and then Vinnik laundered the resulting Bitcoin ransom payments through the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange.

This is the latest milestone in a case that spans multiple countries as Vinnik is also wanted in Russia. He was arrested in 2017 in Greece and then was extradited to France in 2020.

Vinnik’s lawyers appealed to the Greek Supreme Court, claiming that there are insufficient indications, let alone evidence against Vinnik, who has been held in custody since his arrest while vacationing in northern Greece.

Additionally, Moscow submitted an extradition request for Vinnik, who denies his country’s accusations of fraud but has consented to its extradition request.

In 2017, Vinnik was arrested near the northern city of Thessaloniki on a US warrant, where authorities want him on several charges of fraud, including laundering stolen funds from the hack of the defunct bitcoin exchange, MtGox.

Vinnik’s arrest coincided with a series of US-initiated operations against Russian hackers after officials claimed that Russia interfered in the US presidential election to help Donald Trump take office, something Moscow denies.

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