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Trial of Alexander Vinnik, accused of Bitcoin fraud, begins in Paris today

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Suspected of a BTC fraud, the alleged owner of the Russian cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik will start his long-awaited trial in Paris today. The trial begins after Vinnik was arrested in 2017 while holidaying with his family in Greece, and later being imprisoned in France.  

According to French prosecutors, Vinnik has been suspected of being the main creator of the ‘Locky’ ransomware which led to the encryption of users’ data after which he allegedly demanded ransom in bitcoin. Back in 2016 and until 2018, several entities in France were targeted through this malware which resulted in twenty victims paying the ransom through BTC-e. 

In this Paris trial, 41-year-old Vinnik has been accused of this ransomware fraud amounting to 135 million euros ($157 million) and faces up to ten years in prison. Furthermore, Vinnik who claims that he is innocent faces 21 charges from U.S. law agencies accusing him of laundering billions of dollars connected to criminal groups, as well as identity theft and for even facilitating drug trafficking. So far, Vinnik maintains that he was only a technical consultant at BTC-e and has denied all the aforementioned accusations. 

He is also wanted in Russia, in fact Vinnik had gone on a hunger strike demanding to be extradited to Russia where he faced lesser fraud charges for the amount of 9,500 euros ($11,200). 

Earlier in June, New Zealand police had seized assets worth $91 million from a Russian man who laundered billions of dollars in cryptocurrency. Police claimed that the assets involved were held in a New Zealand-registered company, Canton Business Corporation, that allegedly operated the now-defunct BTC-e exchange. 

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Alisha is a full-time journalist at AMBCrypto. Her interests lie in blockchain technology, crypto-crimes, and market developments in Africa and the United States
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