The cryptocurrency market has witnessed many people taking advantage of its unsupervised and decentralized nature, with many falling prey to frauds and large scale financial manipulation. One of the main examples of a cryptocurrency proponent caught in the mix was Alexander Vinnik, the founder and CEO of the now-defunct BTC-e, a Bitcoin exchange that was accused of money laundering worth $4 billion.
According to latest reports, Vinnik, who has been detained in a Greek jail for the last 19 months, has requested for extradition to his homeland, Russia. The 39-year-old Russian nation is suspected of Bitcoin fraud and is wanted by three countries on various criminal charges. On Thursday, he lodged an appeal with a Piraeus court for his “release or extradition to Russia for humanitarian reasons”.
Alexander Vinnik has been on a hunger strike for the past 3 months; a decision that has taken a toll on his health. Many in the cryptoverse have attacked the decisions taken by the Greek court to keep Vinnik locked up for 19 months, when the maximum term for any pre-trial detention is 18 months.
The founder was arrested in Greece way back in July 2017. Since then, countries such as the US, Russia and France have requested his extradition. His lawyer claimed that even though many people used BTC-e for nefarious purposes, Vinnik was completely innocent. The lawyer recently said:
“Vinnik is not supposed to be in jail right now. Many businessmen used the exchange to sidestep legal authorities and many of the charges on him were not illegal at the time of Vinnik’s arrest.”
Excluding Vinnik’s latest request, the Greek courts have approved requests from Russia, France and the US, with the onus now upon Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou to determine Vinnik’s fate. When Vinnik was arrested, he had a total of 21 criminal charges leveled against him. US prosecutor Brian Stretch had said:
“Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin provide people around the world new and innovative ways of engaging in legitimate commerce. As this case demonstrates, however, just as new computer technologies continue to change the way we engage each other and experience the world, so too will criminals subvert these new technologies to serve their own nefarious purposes.”
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