Alexander Vinnik, a Russian Bitcoin Exchange (BTC-e) administrator who was accused of using bitcoin to aid illicit money transfers, was arrested in 2017 as a result of a probe conducted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Vinnik is a wanted man with French authorities, the U.S. and Russia currently fighting over his extradition. There is a suspicion that monetary funds were transferred to Russian military intelligence hacking unit, Fancy Bear.
“There was a strong link between much of the funds allegedly used by the Fancy Bear group and BTC-e. What I can’t say for certain is whether Fancy Bear obtained them directly from BTC-e, or whether there was an intermediary.”
France, Russia and the U.S. allege that Vinnik committed cyber crimes against their citizens.
Vinnik denies this accusation by stating, “I insist that I did not cause any damage to these countries or to the nationals of these countries,”. Vinnik added, “I had no knowledge of illegal transactions.”
Fancy Bear has been accused of stealing and releasing Democrats’ emails to influence voting in the 2016 U.S. elections. In the legal case held in San Francisco, USA, Vinnik and influence were accused of enabling cybercriminals to launder criminal proceeds from digital currencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and transfer them into cash. The BTC-e did not conduct a verification of users which enabled them to move funds anonymously.
“The U.S. is kidnapping Russian citizens through third countries. France is just another way, another link for my extradition to the U.S.” Vinnik said in an interview.
Vinnik denies any knowledge on the $9 billion BTC that traded through BTC-e, and has also agreed to work with French investigators from his confinement in Greece.
Russia is fighting to have Vinnik extradited back to his homeland, in an attempt to ensure no national secrets are leaked to NATO allies.