For those who expected the Alexander Vinnik drama to be over, another plot twist has occurred. More specifically, Greece’s Supreme Court has rejected Vinnik’s appeal that he not be extradited to the US. It is evident this Russian national will face severe penalties in the US, which will be far more severe than any punishment handed down in Greece. For now, it remains to be seen if this extradition will actually happen, as the final verdict has yet to be rendered.
Alexander Vinnik Faces Another Setback
Ever since the BTC-E exchange was shut down by authorities, it became evident someone would have to pay the price. Alexander Vinnik, an alleged operator of the BTC-E exchange, has been in custody and facing extradition for quite some time now. However, it remains to be seen how this situation will play out, as a final verdict has yet to be rendered by Greece’s justice minister. Vinnik doesn’t want to be extradited to the US, for obvious reasons.
So far, Vinnik and his defense have been trying to counter this extradition order through legal means. None of these efforts have paid off, though, as Greece’s supreme court ruled against his request to not be extradited. That is not a big surprise, as there is no legal basis on which to halt his extradition. The alleged BTC-E operator faces criminal charges for running a US$4 billion money laundering operation involving Bitcoin.
For the time being, Vinnik continues to deny he was involved in running BTC-E. The rest of the former exchange team also claims he was not involved in its operations whatsoever. It is unclear which side is telling the truth right now, but it seems Vinnik is getting the short end of the stick. Moreover, the US has charged Vinnik with masterminding multiple crimes which date back all the way to 2011. Drug trafficking, computer hacking, and now money laundering could add up to some major penalties and jail time if his extradition is approved.
At the same time, it seems Russia will do everything it can to get its national back in its custody. The Russian government officially objected to Vinnik’s extradition to the US, although it remains to be seen if its objection will fall on deaf ears. Russia claims this extradition would violate international law, although that appears to be a subject of debate. The real issue is that Russia wants to trail him for stealing 600,000 rubles through a criminal enterprise. Not too many details regarding that heist are known right now, nor should anyone expect more information until Vinnik is officially charged.
This uneasy situation involving the alleged BTC-E operator has gotten a lot of media attention over the weeks. Money laundering involving Bitcoin will only give the world’s leading cryptocurrency an even worse reputation over time. Bitcoin already struggles massively in the PR department as it is, and this case is only making matters worse. We can only hope a final verdict is rendered quickly and the facts come to light. Whether or not there is any real proof to convict Vinnik remains to be determined, though.
Assuming Vinnik gets extradited to the US, the question becomes whether he can even expect a fair trial. As we saw with Ross Ulbricht not too long ago, the US government doesn’t take kindly to people involved with Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. It is unclear what the future holds for this alleged former BTC-E operator, but for now, things are not looking favorable. We will continue to monitor this situation, as it is not the last we will hear of Alexander Vinnik.