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France sentenced BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange operator to 5 years in prison for money laundering

Alexander Vinnik, the operator of Russian cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, has now been sentenced to five years in prison and fined 100,000 euros by a French court. Three years ago, he was arrested in Greece, extradited to France, and wanted in the United States and Russia.

Vinnik was sentenced to more than 3 years in prison

Alexander Vinnik, the operator of the now bankrupt Russian cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, was sentenced to five years in prison by a French court on Monday for money laundering. The 41-year-old was also ordered to be fined 100,000 Euros (US$121,270).

Winnick was found guilty of money laundering charges, but was acquitted for extortion, connections to criminal companies, and cyber attacks related to Rock ransomware because the court did not find enough evidence to convict him. The prosecutor accused him of creating ransomware. From 2016 to 2018, about 200 companies and individuals in France became victims, with an estimated total loss of 135 million euros.

His lawyer is discussing whether to appeal. The Associated Press quoted her as saying that one of his French lawyers, Ariane Zimra, argued that because cryptocurrencies were not legally considered “money”, her client convicted money laundering “Meaningless”.

Vinnik was arrested while on vacation in Greece in July 2017. According to an international arrest warrant issued by the United States, the Greek police detained Vinnik. He was extradited to France in January this year. Although some people believe that he is the mastermind behind the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, Vinnik believes that he is just a technical operator responsible for implementing the instructions of the BTC-e directors.

Vinnik is also wanted in the United States and Russia. While the Russian authorities were investigating his involvement in a fraud involving US$11,000, the US authorities claimed that his BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange helped criminals launder more than US$4 billion.

What do you think of Vinnik’s five-year imprisonment? Let us know in the comments section below.

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