US Calls Off Extradition Request for BTC-e Operator Alexander Vinnik

U.S. authorities still want to try Vinnik, but his lawyer said they carried out a legal maneuver to keep him in prison longer and eventually get him to the U.S.

AccessTimeIconJul 22, 2022 at 2:13 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 9, 2024 at 11:37 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

The request to extradite BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik from France to the U.S. was called off on July 15, Vinnik's French lawyer Frederic Belot confirmed to CoinDesk. The Russian news agency Tass first reported on the news on Thursday.

According to Belot, however, the move will allow U.S. authorities to keep Vinnik in prison longer and later extradite him to Greece, where he was first arrested in 2017, and, ultimately, to the U.S. Vinnik was indicted there in 2020 by a California court on allegations of “computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corrupt public officials and narcotics distribution rings.”

  • Key Events You Shouldn't Miss at Consensus 2024
    02:13
    Key Events You Shouldn't Miss at Consensus 2024
  • What to Expect From Consensus 2024
    11:19
    What to Expect From Consensus 2024
  • Will Solana and Altcoins Dominate the Market Next?
    13:29
    Will Solana and Altcoins Dominate the Market Next?
  • What's Next for FIT21?
    07:15
    What's Next for FIT21?
  • Belot declined to explain the legal mechanism being used by U.S. authorities when asked by CoinDesk, only responding that "by withdrawing their request, the U.S. reactivate the Greece request."

    Vinnik, a Russian national, is known as an operator of BTC-e, one of the earliest bitcoin exchanges, which was linked to the hack of Mt.Gox, the first bitcoin exchange, which never recovered after a theft of 744,408 BTC and had to shut down in 2014.

    Vinnik has always denied that he ran BTC-e, claiming he only worked at the exchange.

    BTC-e, in turn, was shut down by U.S. authorities in 2017, its servers confiscated and Vinnik arrested in Greece where he was on a beach with his family. Since then, three countries have been competing to extradite Vinnik – the U.S., France and Russia – with all three presenting a different set of allegations.

    France prevailed in 2020, and Vinnik was sentenced to five years in prison there by a French court, with the sentence being upheld last summer. However, U.S. authorities have never given up on putting him in a jail in America, according to his lawyers.

    BTC-e's offspring, named WEX, was launched just a few months after the BTC-e website went offline. WEX had access to BTC-e's user base and offered to gradually refund what BTC-e users lost after it was shut down.

    However, WEX also stopped functioning in the summer of 2019. Its CEO, Dmitri Vasiliev, has been arrested several times in different countries since then, including Italy, Poland and most recently in Croatia on May 30.

    Disclosure

    Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

    CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

    Anna Baydakova

    Anna Baydakova was CoinDesk's investigative reporter with a special focus on Eastern Europe and Russia. Anna owns BTC and an NFT.


    Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.



    Read more about