Russian Official Seeks Extradition of Alleged Bitcoin Fraudster Alexander Vinnik
Russia’s Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova has asked Greek Justice Minister Michalis Kalogirou to extradite the alleged former operator of now-defunct crypto exchange BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik, to Russia. The news was reported by Russian news outlet TASS on Feb. 25.
In a letter to Kalogirou, Moskalkova reportedly asked the Minister to extradite Vinnik to Russia following his deteriorating health and the institution of criminal proceedings against him in Russia. Last week, Moskalkova reportedly visited Vinnik in a Greek hospital, where she convinced Vinnik to end the hunger strike he had started in November, 2018. The letter reportedly reads:
“I appeal to you, Mr. Minister, to extradite Alexander Vinnik, a citizen of the Russian Federation — against whom criminal proceedings have been instituted in the Russian Federation, and who is currently in a difficult family situation and health condition — to the Russian Federation for further investigation of his case."
Since the beginning of his hunger strike, Vinnik has purportedly lost about 30 percent of his weight and is virtually “on the verge of death.” Moskalkova has also sent letters to the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, the Greek Health Minister Andreas Xanthos, and the Greek Ombudsman, Andreas Pottakis, asking to provide Vinnik with medical assistance following the hunger strike.
Vinnik, who is a former owner of crypto exchange BTC-e, was arrested by Greek police in July 2017 under the order of the U.S. Department of Justice. Authorities accused him of fraud and laundering as much as $4 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) over the course of six years.
At the time, French authorities also accused Vinnik of “defraud[ing] over 100 people in six French cities between 2016 and 2018.” Russia and France have since both sought the defendant’s extradition in regard to a further series of fraud allegations.