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article imageGreek court orders extradition of Russian Bitcoin suspect to US

By AFP     Dec 13, 2017 in World

Greece's Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that a Russian accused of laundering $4 billion using bitcoin digital currency be extradited to the United States, a court source said.

Greece's justice minister will now have the final say on whether to extradite Alexander Vinnik, who headed BTC-e, an exchange for the cyber currency.

He was indicted by a US court in July on 21 charges ranging from identity theft and facilitating drug trafficking to money laundering.

Vinnik has been held in a Greek jail since his arrest on July 25 in the northern Greek tourist resort of Halkidiki. He denies the accusation.

Russia has also filed a demand to extradite Vinnik so he can stand trial on separate fraud charges.

Two Greek courts separately approved both extradition requests in October.

BTC-e, founded in 2011, became one of the world's largest and most widely used digital currency exchanges.

According to the US indictment, it was "heavily reliant on criminals".

In addition, BTC-e "was noted for its role in numerous ransomware and other cyber-criminal activity".

It allegedly received more than $4 billion (3.4 billion euros) worth of Bitcoin over the course of its operation.

Vinnik was also charged with receiving funds from the infamous hack of Mt. Gox -- an earlier digital currency exchange that eventually failed, in part due to losses attributable to hacking.

The US Treasury Department has slapped BTC-e with a $110 million fine for "wilfully violating" US anti-money laundering laws. Vinnik himself has been ordered to pay $12 million.

In Russia, Vinnik is wanted on separate fraud charges totalling 9,500 euros.

He has said he would accept extradition to his home country.

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