Infamous Alexander Vinnik Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison For Bitcoin Laundering

Infamous Alexander Vinnik Sentenced To 5 Years In Prison For Bitcoin Laundering

Alexander Vinnik, the alleged owner and operator of defunct crypto exchange BTC-e, has been sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering involving Bitcoin. He will also pay 100,000 euros (about $121,000) in penalties in a situation of presumed cryptocurrency scams.

According to the convict’s legal representatives, the Paris court acquitted Vinnik of charges of extortion and organization with a criminal venture.

Vinnik denies any misconduct, and his lawyers are reviewing whether to appeal. He is accused of being behind a 135 million euro ($160 million) scheme that utilized ransomware and Bitcoin.

He was arrested during a vacation in Greece as he is a wanted man in the United States, France, and Russia. However, after spending three years in Greece, he was later extradited to France earlier this year. After his sentence in France, he will be moved to the U.S. before Russia.

Vinnik demanded extradition to Russia, where he is wanted for lesser charges of $11,000, but this request was denied. 


French prosecutors say Vinnik was one of the creators of the ransomware called “Locky” that was delivered through email to victims. If downloaded, the recipient’s data will be encrypted, and they will be asked to pay a ransom in BTC to unlock it.

A collection of such assaults on French companies and businesses in 2016 and 2018 led 20 victims to pay the demanded ransom in bitcoin through BTC-e, one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges between 2011 and 2017.

His major line of defense at his trial was that he was only a technical operator carrying out instructions from BTC-e directors. The court ended up convicting Vinnik of money laundering, as they couldn’t find enough evidence to convict him of extortion. 

Ariane Zimra, one of his lawyers, mentioned that his conviction made no sense. She argued that cryptocurrency isn’t even “legally” considered as money.

His lawyers say Vinnik was being prosecuted since he is a blockchain genius and is viewed as a threat to the global financial system.

The main allegation against Vinnik was brought in 2017 by the San Francisco District Attorneys, specifying that he was running BTC-e as an unregulated exchange that allegedly aided criminals to launder billions via bitcoin.