Russian National Extradited to the U.S. to Face Crypto Money Laundering Charges

Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national accused of running an illegal crypto exchange BTC-e was extradited to the United States to face fraud charges. 


In a statement, Kenneth A. Polite Jr., an assistant attorney, pointed out:

“After more than five years of litigation, Russian national Alexander Vinnik was extradited to the United States yesterday to be held accountable for operating BTC-e, a criminal cryptocurrency exchange, which laundered more than $4 billion of criminal proceeds.”

He added:

 “This extradition demonstrates the Department’s commitment to investigating and dismantling illicit cyber activity and would not have been possible without the relentless work of the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs.”

Following a 21-count superseding indictment charge in January 2017, Vinnik was put into custody in Greece in July 2017 based on a request made by the U.S.


The indictment noted that Vinnik, with his co-conspirators, administered, operated, and owned BTC-e, a significant online money laundering and cybercrime entity that permitted Bitcoin trading among users. 


The report noted:

“The indictment alleges BTC-e facilitated transactions for cybercriminals worldwide and received criminal proceeds from numerous computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corrupt public officials, and narcotics distribution rings.”

During the course of operation,  BTC-e received Bitcoin worth more than $4 billion. Furthermore, it enhanced crimes ranging from drug trafficking to public corruption, tax refund fraud schemes, identity theft, and computer hacking. 


In December 2020, Vinnik was imprisoned for five years by a Parisian court, Blockchain.News reported.


At the time, he was sentenced for money laundering as part of an organized criminal group and for providing false information about the origin of the proceeds. He was also accused of extortion and numerous cybercrimes.

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US Justice Department Charges John McAfee with Cryptocurrency Fraud

The US Department of Justice has charged antivirus software entrepreneur John McAfee with money laundering and fraud offences stemming from two crypto schemes. The Justice Department charged McAfee, 75, and his bodyguard, Jimmy Gale Watson Jr,40, in a newly unsealed indictment in Manhattan federal court on Friday, February 5.

The prosecutors described Jimmy Gale Watson Jr as an executive adviser who served as the head of MacAfee’s cryptocurrency team.

Detectives arrested Watson in Texas on Thursday, February 4, and he would make an initial appearance on Friday next week before a federal magistrate judge in Dallas.

The authorities accused McAfee and Watson of exploiting McAfee’s large Twitter following to artificially inflate prices of cryptocurrencies through a pump and dump scheme and concealing payments that McAfee obtained from startup businesses to promote initial coin offerings. According to the US Department of Justice, McAfee and his cohorts made over $16.9 million by fooling investors zealous over the emerging crypto market.

However, lawyers representing McAfee and Watson could not be immediately identified.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed related civil charges regarding the alleged pump and dump scheme.

McAfee’s Arrest in Spain

McAfee is being detained in Spain following his arrest on tax evasion charges announced in October last year. Both McAfee and Watson face civil charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In October last year, the SEC accused McAfee of concealing over $23.1 million he made from promoting seven crypto offerings on Twitter. The authorities stated that McAfee touted altcoins including Dogecoin, Reddcoin, and Verge as part of a “Coin of the Week” or “Coin of the Day” tweet from around December 2017 through February 2018.

Authorities mentioned that McAfee held himself up as an expert on cryptocurrency and cybersecurity through his speeches, tweets, and his roles as a chief executive of a publicly-traded crypto firm. Authorities also accused McAfee of telling his followers that he had no stake in the altcoins, though he touted how such coins “will change the world.”

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