After the recent arrest of Alexander Vinnik for alleged engagement in money laundering and playing a role in the MtGox hack, BTC-E has been down for maintenance ever since. It only makes sense for authorities to suspend services to a platform that was responsible for laundering criminal proceeds, but the real question remains. Will BTC-E open its doors again and at the very least allow its customers to withdraw their funds?
Currently, if you were to visit BTC-E.com site you will see a maintenance message. Usually, when federal agencies seize or shut down a site they display their logo on the front page. Because BTC-E was set up as a legitimate exchange, it is possible that the servers and wallets may come back online to return money to traders who still had money on the platform. Many users lost thousands of dollars because the exchange was the oldest in operation and gained a substantial amount of trust from the community.
The same day the DOJ Press Release was published specifying the allegations against BTC-E’s operator, the exchange posted the following tweet:
Update2: На данный момент ведутся работы по восстановлению работы сервиса. Примерные сроки от 5 до 10 дней. Спасибо за понимание #btce
— BTC-E (@btcecom) July 26, 2017
A direct translation from Russian is:
“Update 2: At the moment we are working to restoring the service. Approximate time for resolution is 5 – 10 days. Thanks for understanding #btce”
While 5-10 days may be quite a long time to bring the service back online, it does give those who lost money hope of recouping their losses. Despite this message, taking a close look at the DOJ Press Release, it looks like the government won’t let the exchange open its doors again. Chief Don Fort, IRS Criminal Investigation said:
“Exchanges like this are not only illegal, but they are a breeding ground for stolen identity refund fraud schemes and other types of tax fraud.”
Those who were familiar with BTC-E knew that the exchange had to be shut down sooner or later. It never asked for any proper identification and anybody could make an account with an email address. This allowed criminals to easily launder proceeds without linking their identity to the account.
More likely than not, users won’t be able to withdraw funds from the exchange without presenting proper identification. While the servers might come back online, withdrawals might be blocked just like the PBOC blocked transfers out of Chinese Exchanges until they put proper regulations in place.
Do you think BTC-E will come back online in 5-10 days? Do you think law enforcement will allow BTC-e to turn on services and return money to their users?