France has followed Russia and the U.S in extraditing Alexander Vinnik for cybercrime and laundering money using cryptocurrencies.
By joining the ranks of the U.S and Russia on the matter, France has the mandate to put Vinnik on trial for his involvement in money laundering and cybercrime. The suspect who is Russian was arrested in Greece in July last year. Vinnik is a former operator of the BTC-e platform which scammed users out of their crypto-investments. He has also been accused of participating in the MtGox hack which led to the loss of Bitcoin worth more than $450 million in 2014.
Following Vinnik?s arrest in 2017, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced a $12 million fine while a $110 million fine was imposed on BTC-e for the violation of anti-money laundering laws. Vinnik still claims that he is innocent despite the heavy accusations. However, he has not contested any accusations regarding money laundering. Meanwhile, the U.S and Russia have been competing to get custody of him so that they can subject him to trial.
A Greek Supreme Court ruling in December suggests a high likelihood of him being extradited to the U.S., France has now joined the list of countries seeking extradition and this could steer the final verdict to a different direction. France?s involvement is mostly because there were French investors who lost money in the BTC-e scam. It has also been reported that the charges that Vinnik will face in the U.S are more severe than those he will face in Russia.
“A legal issue that will require our attention is which (extradition request) will have priority, as they are based on two international arrest warrants and one European arrest warrant,” stated Vinnik?s lawyer, Ilias Spyrliadis.
Dealing with rampant crypto theft
Greek courts are now tasked with deciding which of the three countries will get custody of Vinnik. Meanwhile, it has also been reported that Greek authorities turned down his request for asylum. Regulators in different countries have been clamping down on rampant cryptocurrency fraud especially with the recent rise of malicious hacks on cryptocurrency exchanges leading to the loss of millions.