Alexander Vinnik was accused of being behind the Bitcoin (BTC) ransomware called „Locky“.
He was also accused of laundering money via the BTC-e cryptomurrency exchange.
Alexander Vinnik was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering.
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Alexander Vinnik was sentenced to five years in prison by the Paris court for money laundering via the BTC-e exchange of cryptomoney.
5 years in prison in France
For the past 4 years, investigators have been trying to link Alexander Vinnik to a Bitcoin (BTC) ransom program that infected several hundred computers. This malicious software had caused an estimated 135 million euros in damage.
The Paris court has partially waived the charges related to the exploitation of this ransomware. However, the judges found that it had indeed participated in collecting the ransom funds and laundering them on the BTC-e encryption exchange platform.
What is the BTC-e exchange?
It is estimated that the BTC-e Cryptocurrency Exchange processed more than $9 billion worth of BTC transactions between its inception in 2011 and its closure in 2017. Alexander Vinnik, himself, has been accused of having laundered 300,000 BTCs (about $4 billion) during those six years.
The BTC-e exchange „had no control or policy against money laundering“. As a result, the authorities claim that the platform was actively used by cybercriminals to launder the proceeds of their illicit activities.
BTC-e is also linked to the hacking in 2014 of Mark Kerpelès‘ famous Mt Gox platform. The platform is also reportedly linked to Fancy Bear, the Russian cyber-espionage group that allegedly hacked into the email accounts of US Democratic Party candidates in the 2016 presidential election.
Vinnik was arrested in Greece in 2017 and then extradited to France. According to the FBI, he is believed to be the head of BTC-e. Known colloquially as „Mr. Bitcoin“, Alexander Vinnik is also said to have had connections with Semion Mogilevich, the godfather of the Russian mafia.