Alexander Vinnik, the founder of BTC-e, a cryptocurrency trading platform taken down by the U.S. government because of its illegal transactions, was sentenced by a Paris court to five years in prison.
The court of appeals in Paris has upheld its December 2020 verdict, which stemmed from Vinnik’s direct links to an organized criminal group that operates money-laundering transactions. Last year’s sentence on Vinnick was all retained except for the fine of 100,000 euros which the court has dismissed.
Vinnik’s defense team has sent a request to the court to re-examine the evidence brought by the FBI, but the request was rejected by the court.
Money laundering, $4 billion involved
Vinnik, a Russian computer specialist, was earlier entangled with illegal operations which involved sending ransomware to 200 people but were later cleared of charges.
In a separate incident, he was detained while vacationing in Greece last July 2017 at the request of U.S. authorities because he was accused of laundering $4 billion using his BTC-e crypto exchange platform.
In January 2020, Vinnik was extradited to France, where he received a five-year imprisonment verdict, but his lawyer is extremely concerned about one more thing.
According to Frédéric Bélot, Vinnick’s attorney, efforts might be rolling in the background to bring him back to Greece and face additional charges in the U.S.
Russia’s efforts to save Vinnik
The Russian government has attempted to save Vinnik by sending an extradition request, highlighting humanitarian aspects as the main reason. Because at the time when the request was sent, Vinnik was going on a hunger strike and his wife has been diagnosed with brain cancer.
But many analysts have said that the extradition request was Russia’s effort to conceal its covert intelligence operations data from foreign authorities.
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