Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of the now bankrupt MT Gox exchange stated the Russian man arrested today for laundering $4 billion through bitcoin is the MT Gox thief. Karpeles says:
“MtGox Bitcoin thief arrested in Greece yesterday. Props to all the people who have worked on this.”
The bombshell claim is made as Karpeles continues his trial for embezzlement of customers funds in Tokyo, but a local Greek paper is seemingly backing his statement.
According to a rough translation, US authorities have accused Alexander Vinnik of “being the leading members of an organization that was running large amounts of money through an online bitcoin digital exchange platform to help them “launder” more than $ 4 billion from 2011 to date,” with the platform being BTC-e.
Moreover, according to documents sent to Greek authorities, a large part of stolen MT Gox coins went through BTC-e, while some “stolen from the attack on Mt. Gox arrived at a San Francisco exchange office.”
Meanwhile Wiz Security, which has been investigating the MT Gox theft since 2014, has stated the Russian arrested in connection with BTC-e is “chief suspect in the MtGox theft and subsequent money laundering.” They further state:
“In September 2011, the MtGox hot wallet private keys were stolen, in a case of a simple copied wallet.dat file. This gave the hacker access to a sizable number of bitcoins immediately, but also were able to spend the incoming trickle of bitcoins deposited.”
No explanation is given as to how they were stolen or how anyone was able to copy their wallet.dat file, but Wiz Security says “the hacker regularly emptied out whatever coins they could spend using the compromised keys, and sent them to wallet(s) controlled by Vinnik,” before adding:
“After the coins entered Vinnik’s wallets, most were moved to BTC-e and presumably sold off or laundered (BTC-e money codes were a popular choice). In total some 300,000 BTC ended up on BTC-e, while other coins were deposited to other exchanges, including MtGox itself.”
The two corrupt US federal agents, Carl Force and Shaun Bridges, are also implicated with BTC-e, with the Greek report stating they used the exchange.
Unconfirmed bitcoin addresses of BTC-e are starting to circulate. The exchange apparently had some 560,000 bitcoins, currently worth $1.4 billion, with 66,000 bitcoins already suspected of being on the move as we reported earlier, but there seems to be another 66,000 that has gone.
It remains unclear who is moving the funds or who controls the rest with more details expected in the coming hours and days as US authorities have not yet made any official statement which should now be expected at any minute.
But for now, we may be getting closer at finding out just what happened during the biggest theft in history when some 1 million bitcoins, now worth $2.5 billion, were stolen as it appears the matter may go to trial because Vinnik denies the accusations and stated he was amazed at his arrest.
US authorities are seeking to extradite him, with the Appeal Council soon to give an opinion on the request, followed by a final decision from the Greek Minister of Justice.