Alleged BTC-e CEO Alexander Vinnik maintains his innocence following his arrest for laundering more than $4 billion in bitcoin, as well as several other crimes.
Vinnik, a Russian national, was arrested in July while vacationing in Greece. Despite his protestations that he should stand trial in Russia, a U.S. grand jury has indicted him on 21 counts, most notably for laundering the funds stolen from Mt. Gox. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison.
In a recent Russian-language interview with news outlet Russia Today, Vinnik maintained his innocence. As he explained:
The fact that I worked at BTC-e and performed my duties, and it’s not justifiable to accuse me of it. I learned about the charge about a month after I was taken into custody. This was told to me by my Russian lawyer.
Vinnik is currently being held in custody in Greece while the U.S. Department of Justice moves to extradite him. He stated that he refused voluntary extradition to the United States because he does not understand what right the nation has to try him.
Because I believe that I did not do anything illegal….I do not understand what the US has to do with me and what right they have to judge a Russian citizen.
Previously, Vinnik’s wife told Russia Today that she believes the U.S. government arrested him so they could exploit his intellectual abilities.
BTC-e, the embattled bitcoin exchange Vinnik allegedly ran, was seized by the U.S. government and fined $110 million by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Vinnik disputes that he was in charge of BTC-e, instead claiming that he was an employee who just did his job. BTC-e, meanwhile, denies that Vinnik was ever employed by the exchange.
BTC-e has recently begun its relaunch. According to an update posted yesterday, the revamped exchanged will open on September 15. The company intends to directly refund 55% of cryptocurrency deposits to users and pay the other 45% with Bitfinex-style tokens.
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