Temporary win for Russian Federation in bid for bitcoin suspect

13 October, 2017, 04:19 | Author: Regina Silva

A tug-of-war between the USA and Russia over the extradition of a Russian national suspected of bitcoin-related fraud went into a new round on Wednesday when a Greek court backed Russia's claim.

Last week, Thessaloniki judges ruled that he could be handed over to the United States, but they have now also ruled the Russian extradition request admissible.

Lawyers said the final decision on Vinnik will rest with Greece's justice minister once the suspect has exhausted the process of appealing his extradition to the United States.

Vinnik was arrested in July while on holiday with his family in Halkidiki, northern Greece.

Vinnik is one of seven Russians arrested or indicted this year on US cybercrime charges. He has appealed his US extradition, and Greece's Supreme Court is expected to rule on that appeal in coming weeks.

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In its ruling Wednesday, the court upheld the request from Russian Federation for Alexander Vinnik to return to his homeland and stand trial on lesser charges relating to alleged fraud worth 10,000 euros.

Russian Federation filed its extradition request for Vinnik after the USA request, and has accused him of a lesser 667,000-ruble ($11,500) fraud which, if upheld in court, could draw a maximum prison sentence of six years.

According to reports, Vinnik is alleged to have laundered roughly $4 billion in Bitcoin, and faces charges that include 17 counts of various money crimes and illegal operation of a money service.

The U.S. government has accused Vinnik of operating the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, and using it to facilitate criminal activities like drug trafficking and computer hacks. Vinnik has denied the American allegations, insisting that he was merely a technical consultant for the exchange.

The charges, if proved in court, carry maximum sentences of up to 20 years in prison.

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