Alexander Vinnik, the alleged owner and operator of the famous cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, has been found ineligible for release on bail in the United States, where he was recently transferred from Greece. The Russians, accused of large-scale money laundering through a now-defunct trading platform, and other crimes, have denied the US accusations.
Alexander Vinnik Remains in California Prison, Russian Embassy Offers Help
Authorities in the United States have effectively denied bail for IT specialist Alexander Vinnik, Russian media reported, citing him. recording on the website of Santa Rita Prison in California where he is incarcerated. Vinnik has been in the US since the rush extradition from Greece more than a week ago, which angered the international defense team.
The crypto entrepreneur was arrested on a US warrant in the summer of 2017, in the Greek city of Thessaloniki where he had come on a family vacation. Greece first sent him to France at the end of 2019, where he is served a five-year sentence for money laundering. In July, US authorities retreat request to get him from France, thus speeding up his transfer through Greece, which has approved his extradition to the United States.
His lawyer protested the decision to quickly hand him over to American authorities, pointing out that he had applied for asylum in Greece after previously warning that in the US Vinnik would be “hostage” of the geopolitical clashes surrounding the ongoing military conflict in NATO-backed Ukraine, which was invaded by Russian forces in February.
Information provided by the prison’s online inmate locator does not indicate whether the bail decision was made at the hearing on August 5, when Vinnik appeared in federal court in San Francisco, or if the judge has not considered the matter. Checking the status returns a short message “No bail available (NO BAIL).”
Russia Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ to Crimes Alleged by US Prosecutors
During the first hearing, Alexander Vinnik declared his innocence and pleaded not guilty, according to a report by the Tass news agency, citing a court spokesman. The next hearing has been scheduled for August 15.
According to the indictment, cited by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in last week’s announcement of extradition, BTC-e processed transactions from various crimes, such as Mt Gox hack, ransomware fraud, and drug trafficking. Russia now faces multiple counts of money laundering totaling more than $4 billion, among other charges.
In another report this week, Tass announced that the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington is still seeking contact with Vinnik by phone. Nadezhda Shumova, who heads the Consular Department of the mission has been quoted as saying that Russian diplomats intend to provide all necessary consular and legal assistance to their compatriots.
Greece and France have ignored the extradition request submitted by Russia, where they are accused of embezzling more than 600,000 rubles (less than $10,000 at the current exchange rate) and “fraud in the field of computer information” for 750 million rubles ($12 million). Vinnik himself in the past expressed his desire to return to his homeland and face justice there. That seems plausible, however. The allegation not mentioned by the DOJ is that he cooperated with Russian intelligence.
Do you think Alexander Vinnik will be punished for money laundering in the United States? Share your expectations about the trial in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, Russian Embassy in Greece
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