BTC-e Disavows Alexander Vinnik, Promises to Return User Funds
BTC-e has made an announcement on Bitcointalk. In the post, BTC-e provides more information about what is currently happening with the exchange from their point of view.
BTC-e Makes Latest Announcement
Following the arrest of Alexander Vinnik, a 38-year-old Russian man that is accused of money laundering, the BTC-e exchange domain has been taken down by the FBI, with multiple reports connecting the two and describing Vinnik as a “key person behind the platform” that used it to launder coins used by criminals.
The Russian exchange, which has kept quiet over the last few days, posted an announcement today on Bitcointalk, a popular Bitcoin and cryptocurrency forum. In the post, BTC-e provides more information about what is currently happening with the exchange from their point of view. The (translated) post reads:
On July 25, 11:00 the FBI staff came to the data centre where our server equipment was located and seized all equipment, the servers contained databases and the wallets of our service. […] On July 28, the domain was confiscated. At the moment, part of the service facility is arrested by the FBI.
What About Users’ Funds?
The post also references a future announcement which will update clients on the state of service and on how they can retrieve their funds if the service is not restored. The post reads:
In the current situation, if the service is not started before the end of August, Then from September 1 we will start the process of refund. In the next 1-2 weeks, we will evaluate and publish information about how much money fell into the hands of the FBI and what amount of funds is available for return.
With the Mt. Gox disaster still in mind, lost funds are currently the main concern on everyone’s minds. Some users have even created a petition on Change.org urging the Department of Justice to return the coins to the clients. The petition, which has roughly 2800 signatures, reads:
a few days ago a crypto currency exchange has been shutdown by the us government and a lot of innocent people lost a lot of money in the process.
We need our money back!
BTC-e and Alexander Vinnik
In the announcement, BTC-e also talks briefly about Alexander Vinnik, stating that he is not and never was an employee of BTC-e nor the head of the service.
Alexander Vinnik was arrested in Greece last week under suspicions of running a money laundering operation. According to several reports, the Russian man is said to be an operator of the BTC-e exchange, using the platform to laundry Bitcoins for “people involved in crimes ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking”.
Although it is not clear if Vinnik does have a connection to BTC-e, the exchange has been known to be a prime choice for cyber criminals looking to cash out their Bitcoins, a process made easy due to the lack of KYC/AML policies. It is possible that BTC-e will provide more details about Alexander Vinnik and his connection to the exchange in its future update.
What are your thoughts? Is Alexander Vinnik connected to BTC-e? Will users ever recover their funds? Let us know in the comment section.
Images courtesy of BTC-e, Reuters/Alexandros Avramidis, Pexels