French court sentenced BTC-e exchange operator Alexander Vinnik to 5 years in prison
In December 2020, an appeals court in Paris confirmed a five-year prison sentence in proceedings against the BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik.
The verdict came to the conclusion that Vinnik had committed money laundering as part of an organized crime and provided false information about the origin of the proceeds.
Alexander Vinnik – Former CEO BTC-e
The Paris court denied a number of motions from Vinnik’s attorneys, including requests to examine copies of evidence presented by the FBI. They also exempted Vinnik from the € 100,000 fine associated with the December penalty.
Vinnik was initially charged with ransomware defrauding nearly 200 people, but the court dismissed the malware attack charges in December, with prosecutors calling for a lower fine and expressing doubts that he could benefit from the victims’ investment, according to the News agency TAAS from Russia.
Vinnik’s attorney will petition for cassation
within five days according to French regulations.
A review of a final judgment or decision that has been objected to because a serious legal violation was found in the resolution of the case.
The Russian computer expert was arrested in July 2017 at the request of the USA, initially while on vacation in Greece. He was accused by the United States of laundering over $ 4 billion while running the now defunct exchange, BTC-e.
In January 2020, Vinnik was extradited to France, where he was sentenced to five years in prison in December. Lawyer Frédéric Bélot was concerned that the Greek authorities would allow him to return to Greece after his conviction.
Russia has also requested extradition on humanitarian grounds. After Vinnik went on a hunger strike in Greece in November 2018, Russian human rights inspector Tatiana Moskalkova asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to support Vinnik’s return to Russia. At the time, she highlighted the deteriorating health of Vinnik and his wife, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
However, it has been suggested that Russia’s extradition request could be due to preventing sensitive data related to its intelligence activities from getting into the hands of foreign enemies, with some analysts suggesting that Russian intelligence agencies may have used BTC-e to obtain Bitcoin for to buy special operations.
If extradited, Vinnik faces lesser charges in Russia for “computer information fraud”.
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