US files lawsuit against Bitcoin exchange that helped launder ransomware profits

US files lawsuit against Bitcoin exchange that helped launder ransomware profits

In a lawsuit filed on Friday, July 26, the US wants to recover $88,596,314 from the accounts of the now-defunct BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, and an additional $12 million from Alexander “Mr. Bitcoin” Vinnick, BTC-e’s founder and CEO.

The sum represents a fine that was imposed by the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in 2017 when the FBI shut down the BTC-e portal, and Greek authorities arrested Vinnick.

For the past two years, the DOJ has been trying to extradite Vinnick to the US to face charges, but with no success.

In fact, in a shocking and unexpected decision, Greece’s highest court ruled last year to extradite Vinnick to Russia, his home country, where he stands to face trial on much lighter charges than those brought forward by the US and France (also looking for Vinnick’s extradition).

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The DOJ’s civil lawsuit is an alternative legal method to make sure the US Treasury FinCEN recovers its due fine in the case US authorities opened in 2017.

A day later after the BTC-e shutdown, a team of academics that also included Google staffers presented research at the Black Hat USA 2017 security conference, revealing that 95% of all ransomware ransom payments that had been made up until that point had been cashed out and converted into fiat currency through Vinnik’s BTC-e portal.

Furthermore, a similar investigation by a group of anonymous Bitcoin experts calling themselves WizSec published an investigation linking Vinnik’s Bitcoin accounts to money laundering operations involving funds stolen from the (hacked) Mt. Gox exchange…

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