Russia, America dig into tug-of-war over Bitcoin laundering suspect

We want him! No, he's ours! Shut up!

By Andrew Silver

Posted in Security, 6th October 2017 17:02 GMT

Russia doesn't want America taking one of its nationals accused of running a $4bn Bitcoin laundering ring – Moscow wants him more.

The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday that a Greek court's decision to extradite Alexander Vinnik to the US is "unjust and a violation of international law".

The 38-year-old was arrested in Greece in July. Both the US and Moscow want him for suspected money laundering on the defunct BTC-e exchange.

Although Vinnik denies the charges from both countries, a Greek court gave the green light on Wednesday for his extradition to US, where the risk of up to 55 years in prison could become a reality if he is found guilty.

The catch is that Russia also has an extradition request in with Greece. The Russian foreign ministry is arguing that its request should take priority since Vinnik is a Russian national.

"The verdict is even more surprising in the context of the atmosphere of friendly relations between Russia and Greece," the statement added. "We hope the Greek authorities will consider the Russian Prosecutor General's Office request, and Russia's reasoning, and act in strict compliance with international law."

The Register has asked the Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the US Department of Justice to comment, and will update this article if we hear back.

Reuters reports that Vinnik is appealing the Greek court's decision to the Greek Supreme Court. It is understood that he is willing to return to Russia. ®

Updated to add: The US Department of Justice contacted us after the publication of this story to say: "The United States is seeking the lawful extradition of Mr. Vinnik from Greece pursuant to the U.S.-Greek bilateral extradition treaty.”

Sign up to our NewsletterGet IT in your inbox daily

18 Comments

More from The Register

To Russia, with love: Greek court now says Bitcoin fraud suspect could be tried at home

US and Moscow both want to extradite Alexander Vinnik, 38, but minister of justice will decide

Russia to block access to cryptocurrency exchanges' websites – report

Updated Central bank deputy governor calls them 'dubious'

Russia tweaks Telegram with tiny fine for decryption denial

FSB wanted keys, messaging outfit said Nyet

'Suspicious' BGP event routed big traffic sites through Russia

Google, Facebook and Microsoft routed through PutinGrad, for no good reason

UK names Russia as source of NotPetya, USA follows suit

Updated 'Almost certain' assessment enough for official blast from Foreign Office

Russia claims it repelled home-grown drone swarm in Syria

13 explosively armed but cobbled-together drones swarmed airbase

UK Army chief: Russia could totally pwn us with cable-cutting and hax0rs

Speech to think tank will warn of Brit weaknesses in key areas

Twitter breaks bad news to 677,775 twits: You were duped by Russia

Election manipulation wasn't as bad as feared – it was worse

Russia could chop vital undersea web cables, warns Brit military chief

ACM Sir Stuart Peach is right – but only to a point

Apple accused of counter-revolutionary pricing in Russia

Tovarishch Cook accused of sending retailers to gulag unless they follow price list