Court Approves Alleged Bitcoin Money Launder’s Extradition to France
A Russian national accused of laundering billions of dollars on the now-defunct crypto exchange BTC-e could soon be extradited to France following a court decision.
Since his arrest last summer, Alexander Vinnik has been at the center of a legal tug-of-war between the governments of Russia, the U.S. and, more recently, France, all of which are seeking to extradite him.
Vinnik, who has maintained no wrongdoing from all charges, had been awaiting a decision from Greek authorities on which country he would ultimately be sent to, though in the past he had expressed a preference for extradition to Russia.
According to the Associated Press, the Greek courts decided Friday that Vinnik would be sent to France in light of accusations of his involvement in cyber attacks against some 100 French nationals. The decision drew swift criticism from the Russian government in wake of the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from Greece just a day prior related to tensions over the entry of Macedonia into the NATO military alliance.
Ilias Spyrliadis, Vinnik’s defense attorney, was reported by the Washington Post as saying that Vinnik will appeal the decision and continue to maintain his innocence from all criminal charges.
Indeed, this is not the first appeal Vinnik has made before Greek authorities, pushing back on the green light offered last December that would have effectively extradited Vinnik to the U.S.
The U.S. government claims Vinnik was the “operator” of BTC-e and utilized the platform to launder some $4 billion over the course of six years. Levying a $110 million fine against the exchange and a $12 million penalty against the Russian national himself, Vinnik would face up to 55 years in prison if convicted in the U.S.
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