Greece's Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Russian national Aleksandr Vinnik, the purported mastermind of what US authorities have described as a $4 billion bitcoin money laundering operation, to avoid extradition to the US, where he has been indicted – along with his former company, mysterious digital currency exchange BTC-e – on nearly two dozen felony counts, including fraud and money laundering.
Russia, where Vinnik is accused of stealing 600,000 rubles ($10,500) from an unidentified entity “using... deception and the internet,” also requested extradition. The competing request had earlier been approved by another court ruling, but the final decision on the matter will be made by the Greek Minister of Justice.
Greek ruling to extradite Russian Bitcoin expert to US violates int’l law – Moscow https://t.co/2nheAct8t3— RT (@RT_com) October 6, 2017
Russia criticized the court’s first decision as unjust and illegal, saying that its request “takes precedence [over another country’s] as Vinnik is a citizen of the Russian Federation.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision was expected, it is a decision on an appeal on the same decision of the Thessaloniki court. There are more opportunities for legal work which will be carried out now,” Vinnik’s lawyer, Timofey Musatov, said on Wednesday, according to Russia Today.
The Thessaloniki court ruling in favor of the US was politically motivated, Musatov told RT.
He warned that the suspect’s eventual extradition would mean that “any citizen in the world could be arrested at any second on false accusations, in which there are no facts, but only assumptions.”
In July, Vinnik was arrested in the resort area of Halkidiki, near the city of Thessaloniki in northern Greece. It was claimed that he had links to BTC-E digital currency trading and exchange platform, which he allegedly used for money laundering. The US also claims that the suspect is behind the hack of Mt. Gox, the Japan-based bitcoin exchange.
Vinnik, who allegedly oerated BTC-e since its inception in 2011, was accused of helping the perpetrators of the 2014 theft of customer bitcoins from Mt. Gox, along with a slate of other crimes.