By William Suberg
The largest Russian-language cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e was closed on “unscheduled technical work.”
The owners of BTC-e diligently kept anonymity. However, our source from qugla.com ICO marketing agency has revealed to Cointelegraph that Alexander Vinnik is one of the owners and administrators of the exchange.
Earlier today, Greek police have arrested Alexander Vinnik accused of heading a group which laundered $4 bln in Bitcoin over six years.
“There was practically no KYC on the exchange, and, as a result, the cash flows were unregulated,” the source explains.
“The reason why Vinnik has been caught only now is relatively simple – SEC is tightening the screws, and in November there will be a new law in the US regulating token sale.”
There is no reliable information, but in the opinion of our source, the funds are in the hands of the second administrator of BTC-e who is now actively negotiating with SEC and the Ministry of Justice.
“If within 48 hours the situation is not resolved in a positive way, with a high degree of probability you can forget about the money.”
BTC-e invested in a lot of cryptocurrency startups as well as exchanges.
Connection with MtGox
As the source confirms, Vinnik has a direct relationship to hacking MtGox. The hacked Bitcoins were not only laundered by BTC-e but also were on Vinnik’s personal wallet. The total amount is about 300 000 BTC. In the same manner, they laundered stolen BTC from other exchanges.
“He was singled out through WebMoney – there was a connection with his wm-exchanger service”, explains the source. “He caught the interest of the police in their investigation of MtGox”.
“Sasha is an outstanding person, the cleverest of people, according to those who know him. He could multiply three-digit numbers mentally. He is very calculating. He had no equal for reasoning. He was always one step ahead of competitors and authorities.”
“Simply under arrest”
The arrest warrant was originally issued by the US Ministry of Justice and relates to activities involving the use of Bitcoin stretching back to 2011.
“We can confirm a Russian citizen was arrested yesterday (July 25) on the orders of the US Ministry of Justice,” a source from the Russian general consulate in Thessaloniki told RBC. “His detention is not yet finalized and for now he is simply under arrest.”
A raid on the 38-year-old’s hotel room produced multiple computers, phones and credit cards, Mail.ru further reports.
Details of the scheme are yet to emerge, but it is by far not the first incident of Bitcoin-related transactions leading to arrests and international headlines from the US.
Operating money transfer businesses without a license has frequently formed the motivation for jail sentences in recent years as informal Bitcoin trading goes awry.