February 21, 2024

Accused BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik has reportedly been extradited to America to face multiple charges related to money laundering while working at the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange.

Vinnik has been embroiled in legal battles for the past five years over his alleged role as the mastermind of BTC-e. The cryptocurrency exchange is said to have benefited from various illegal activities that used the platform to launder around $4 billion worth of Bitcoin (BTC).

Vinnik’s lawyer Frédéric Bélot he said The American news network CNN on August 5 that Vinnik was in transit from Greece to the United States, where he is to face a series of charges in the Northern District Court of California. The Russian national is charged with money laundering and operating a money service without a license in America, among other charges.

The defendant is already serving a five-year sentence in France from December 2020 after being convicted of money laundering as a member of an organized crime group. Vinnik’s lawyers had launched an appeal that was unsuccessful, arguing that Vinnik was just an employee of the exchange and had no involvement in illegal activities at BTC-e.

Related: Life After Crime: What Happens to Cryptocurrencies Seized in Criminal Investigations?

Vinnik was initially arrested in Greece while on holiday in 2017, with America, France and Russia fighting over his extradition since then. Greece’s Council of State chose to extradite Vinnik to France in early 2020, despite numerous attempts by Russia to request his passage to their jurisdiction.

As Cointelegraph previously reported, Vinnik had agreed to an extradition request from Russia, given that he was facing far less serious charges. Instead, Vinnik faces up to 55 years in prison in America on 21 counts of unlicensed money laundering, money laundering and related crimes filed by the Justice Department.