Russian Alexander Vinnik sentenced in Paris to five years in prison for money laundering

Pierluigi Paganini December 08, 2020

Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik was sentenced in Paris to five years in prison for money laundering and ordered to pay 100,000 euros in fines.

Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik was sentenced in Paris to five years in prison for money laundering and ordered to pay 100,000 euros in fines.

The man went on trial in Paris for having defrauded nearly 200 victims across the world of 135M euros using ransomware.

Alexander Vinnik allegedly headed the Bitcoin exchange BTC-e, he is charged with different hacking crimes in Russia, France, and the United States.

The French court acquitted Vinnik of charges of extortion and association with a cybercrime organization.

In 2017, Greek Police arrested the Russian national Alexander Vinnik and they accused the man of running the BTC-e Bitcoin exchange to launder more than US$4bn worth of the cryptocurrency.


The authorities reported that since 2011, 7 million Bitcoin went into the BTC-e exchange and 5.5 million withdrawn.

According to the Greek media outlet the Daily Thess, the FBI tracked Alexander Vinnik for more than a year.

The man is charged by the US authorities with fraud and money laundering for more than $4 billion worth amount of Bitcoin (BTC) resulting from criminal activities, the US prosecutors requested his extradition in July 2017.

Vinnik is also accused to be responsible for the failure of the Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.

Mt. Gox was the biggest Bitcoin exchange at the time of the shut down in 2014 that occurred after the platform was the victim of a series of cyber heists for a total of $375 million in Bitcoin.

The U.S. authorities speculate the Russian man stole funds from Mt. Gox, with the help of an insider. The stolen funds were transferred to a wallet managed by Vinnik and funds were laundered through his platform BTC-e-service during a three-year period.

In July 2018 there was a twist, a Greek lower court agreed to extradite Vinnik to France to face with charges with hacking, money laundering, extortion and involvement in organized crime.

French authorities accused Vinnik of defrauding more than 100 people in six French cities between 2016 and 2018.

French prosecutors revealed that among the 188 victims of the Vinnik’s attacks, there were local authorities, businesses, and individuals across the world.

In June, New Zealand police had frozen NZ$140 million (US$90 million) in assets linked to a Russian cyber criminal. New Zealand police had worked closely with the US Internal Revenue Service on the case and the investigation is still ongoing.

Vinnik continues to deny charges of extortion and money laundering and did not answer magistrates’ questions, his lawyer also announced that is evaluating whether to appeal.

French prosecutors believe Vinnik was one of the authors of the Locky ransomware that was also employed in attacks on French businesses and organizations between 2016 and 2018.

At his trial, Vinnik explained that he was not the kingpin of the organization, he claimed t have served only as a technical operator executing the instructions of BTC-e directors.

Vinnik was convicted of money laundering but prosecutors didn’t find enough evidence to convict him of extortion.

“The court convicted Vinnik of money laundering but didn’t find enough evidence to convict him of extortion, and stopped short of the 10-year jail term and 750,000 euros in fines that prosecutors had requested.” reported the Associated Press.

“One of his French lawyers, Ariane Zimra, said his conviction for money laundering “doesn’t make sense,” arguing that cryptocurrency is not legally considered “money.”

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Alexander Vinnik)

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