Alexander Vinnik is one of the main suspects in the disastrous hacking of the defunct Mt Gox crypto stock exchange. He was notably accused of money laundering by facilitating the handling of Bitcoins stolen from this platform in 2014. But it was for other acts of money laundering that he was tried in France last October.
A system of ransomwares and bitcoin laundering
Since his arrest by the Greek police in 2017, Alexander Vinnik has been the subject of extradition requests from Russia (where he is from), France and the United States. It was finally France that finally obtained the transfer of the suspect to its soil from Greece in early 2020.
The trial of Alexander Vinnik thus opened in Paris on October 19. As summarized by the Russian newspaper The Moscow Times, the charges brought against this computer developer concerned the use of ransomwares to obtain bitcoins (BTC), then their laundering via the BTC-e exchange platform.
The man who has always presented himself as a „mere technical operator“ of the BTC-e platform has just received the verdict of his trial, which will be described as half-tone.
Sentenced to 5 years in prison
Although there was not enough evidence against Alexander Vinnik to sustain the charges of participation in the use of the ransomware called Locky, the Russian national was convinced that he participated and facilitated the laundering of the 135 million euros embezzled by these cyber attacks.
The man, now 41 years old, already in detention, was therefore sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of 100,000 euros for money laundering in an organized gang.
If Alexander Vinnik had been extradited to the United States rather than France, things could have gone even worse for him. He is indeed under 21 charges, ranging from identity theft to facilitating drug trafficking to money laundering.
Conversely, if he had been extradited to Russia, as he wished, he would only be charged with a fraud of 9,500 euros. In other words, he would have walked away free.
Although Alexander Vinnik’s future is still uncertain for the time being, his lawyers explain that he will probably appeal against this decision. As for the accusations concerning his possible participation in the massive theft of bitcoins from Mt. Gox, they will only be answered if the Russian ends up being extradited to the USA.