Alexander Vinnik, the Russian alleged founder of the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, has been sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment in France and ordered to pay a €100,000 fine for laundering the proceeds of cybercrime. Mr Vinnik, dubbed “Mr Bitcoin” by the press, was extradited to France from Greece in 2018.
Mr Vinnik’s initial arrest by Greek police in 2017 was at the behest of the US Department of Justice but a Greek court ruled in favour of a subsequent French request for his extradition. Both the US and Russia have filed new extradition requests with French authorities in respect of Mr Vinnik. While both requests purport to seek Mr Vinnik’s extradition to face charges in their respective jurisdictions, Russia has been accused in recent years of filing competing extradition requests as a ploy to derail US investigations and to return Russian cybercriminals to their home jurisdiction. The Russian request relates to lesser fraud charges but if extradited and convicted in the US, Mr Vinnik would face up to 55 years in prison.