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BTC-e Founder Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Money Laundering

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The founder of now-defunct BTC-e exchange has been sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering.

Alexander Vinnick, the Russian man who founded and ran the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange service BTC-e, has been sentenced to five years in prison. 

A Paris court found Vinnick guilty of money laundering and ordered him to pay €100,000 (US$121,000) in fines. He was arrested in Greece back in 2017 under an international warrant issued by the US Department of Justice and was extradited to France earlier this year for trial.

He was charged with massively laundering funds by accepting stolen funds from cyberattack.  by the Justice Department. He was reportedly said to be using BTC-e as a front for a massive money laundering operation which was also linked to the Mt.Gox stolen funds.

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Security firm Wizsec previously linked his private BTC-e accounts to funds stolen from Mt. Gox. Recall that in 2014, around $480 million worth of Bitcoins disappeared from the exchange due to, as Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles termed it, “weaknesses in the system.”

In 2011, Vinnick was charged by the U.S. DOJ with 17 counts of laundering up to $4 billion since the exchange was founded. Meanwhile, French prosecutors charged him for “extortion, conspiracy and harming automatic data-processing systems.” 

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French authorities claimed that he helped in creating the ransomware “Locky,” which was responsible for the email cyberattack between 2016 and 2018. French businesses and organizations were reportedly the targeted victims and at least 20 victims in the country ended up paying ransom money in Bitcoin.

Vinnick side argued that he was only acting on orders from directors of the company. Not minding his claims, he was still convicted for money laundering. According to ZENet, the French prosectors were only able to prove one out of the 14 charges brought against Vinnick.

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