Alleged BTC-e Operator Alexander Vinnik to Be Extradited to France: Reports

Alleged BTC-e exchange operator and money launderer Alexander Vinnik is being extradited to France.

The news was made public by the Russian embassy in Greece, the country in which he has been held since his arrest in July 2017 over allegations he had laundered at least $4 billion through the BTC-e bitcoin exchange.

Vinnik’s extradition has been sought by the governments of the U.S., Russia and France. Vinnik himself had said he wanted to see trial in Russia.

The embassy told state-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti on Friday it regrets Greece has not granted Russia’s requests for the extradition of Vinnik.

“At the first stage, Vinnik will be extradited to France. We informed Moscow about this. We are sorry to see that the reasonable request from Russia’s Prosecutor General about Vinnik’s extradition to his country of citizenship was ignored,” the embassy representative said.

The Greek minister of justice made the decision to extradite Vinnik to France, according to the embassy.

RIA Novosti also reports Vinnik has now gone on a hunger strike to protest the extradition decision.

He previously went on a hunger strike for 100 days in 2018 over claims his rights were being violated, RIA reported. Vinnik has maintained he is innocent of all charges, claiming he was just an employee at the exchange.

CoinDesk has reached out to Vinnik’s attorney but had not received a reply by press time.

The decision to extradite the Russian to France was reportedly made last summer, but Russia has been fighting the move. Russian President Vladimir Putin had even raised he subject with the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last December, as per another report from RIA Novosti.

France has been seeking Vinnik’s extradition over alleged cybercrime, money laundering, membership in a criminal organization and extortion, according to Associated Press.

The U.S. Department of Justice levied a $110 million fine against BTC-e and a $12 million penalty against Vinnik in July 2017.

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