Date: August 3, 2017
A United States jury indicted a Russian man, Alexander Vinnik on Wednesday as the operator of a digital currency exchange he allegedly used in order to launder more than $4 billion bitcoin. It is reported that the said money was used for people involved in crimes that range from computer hacking to drug trafficking.
The US indicts Russian man for $4 billion Bitcoin exchange
Following an investigation led by the U.S. Justice Department along with several other task forces and federal agencies, Alexander Vinnik was arrested in a small beachside village in northern Greece on Tuesday. Vinnik is described as the operator of BTC-e, an exchange that is used to trade the digital currency bitcoin since 2011.
Money-laundering through Bitcoin
The Justice Department alleged Vinnik and his firm “received” around $4 billion in bitcoin and did substantial business in the U.S. without following appropriate protocols so as to protect against money laundering and other related crimes.
Vinnik linked to failure of Mt. Gox
U.S. authorities have also linked Vinnik to the failure of Mt. Gox, which is a Japan-based bitcoin exchange. Mt. Gox had collapsed in 2014 after being hacked. According to U.S. authorities, Vinnik “obtained” funds from the hack of Mt. Gox and then laundered them through BTC-e and Tradehill, another San Francisco-based exchange he owned.
What Brian Stretch, U.S. Attorney said?
Brian Stretch, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California said, ‘Just as new computer technologies continue to change the way we engage each other and experience the world, so too will criminals subvert these new technologies to serve their own nefarious purposes.’
Greek police further described Vinnik as “an internationally sought ‘mastermind’ of a crime organization.”
Bitcoin is the first digital currency to successfully use cryptography in order to keep transactions secure and pseudonymous, making conventional financial regulation difficult.
Further law enforcement agencies around the world have been able to identify users behind pseudonymous wallets connected to illegal activities by tracking bitcoin movements, often with the help of crypto-currency experts.
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