February 22, 2018

Greek court rules for extradition of Russian hacker Vinnik to USA

05 October 2017, 12:53 | Rex Hubbard

Russian Alexander Vinnik who is accused of laundering billions using Bitcoin outside a courthouse in Thessaloniki Greece

Russian Alexander Vinnik who is accused of laundering billions using Bitcoin outside a courthouse in Thessaloniki Greece

A Greek court approved the extradition of Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik to the U.S. where he is wanted in connection with a $4 billion bitcoin fraud, reports AP.

Russian Federation also submitted an extradition request on separate charges, and Vinnik stated he would voluntarily comply with that request.

Each of the accused faces a maximum punishment of more than 50 years in federal prison if convicted on all counts - an outcome made increasingly likely after the courts recently rejected extradition requests filed by Russian Federation and agreed to send the accused stateside pending appeal.

U.S. officials charge that as the operator of BTC-e, Vinnik extensively laundered criminal proceeds thereby facilitating drug trafficking and hacking, accusations that he has repeatedly denied. Vinnik, suspected of laundering $4 billion worth of bitcoin, was arrested while vacationing in northern Greece in July 2017.

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Neither Mr. Levashov nor Mr. Vinnik is charged in connection with Russia's alleged election meddling, though the former has insisted he'll be tortured to death if extradited to the authorities interested in details about his former employee, Mr. Putin's United Russia party. While Vinnik denies those charges too, he consents to being returned to Russian Federation.

Vinnik appealed to Greece's Supreme Court, and his lawyers cited "insufficient indications, let alone evidence" against him presented in court. They say Vinnik "obtained" funds from the hack of Mt. Gox and laundered them through BTC-e and Tradehill, another San Francisco-based exchange he owned. US authorities also accuse him of laundering funds obtained from the 2014 collapse of the Japan-based exchange Mt. Gox.

In the event that the Supreme Court upholds the decision, Greece's justice minister will have the final say over whether Vinnik's extradition to the USA can go ahead, or whether his transfer to America needs to be blocked in favour of Russia's request.

"We have faith in the Greek justice system and a long road ahead of us", said another of Vinnik's lawyers, Xanthippi Moisidou.

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