One of the oldest bitcoin exchange, BTC-e, went down yesterday without any explanation except for tweeting “unplanned maintenance in data center, possible problems with access to btc-e.”
The exchange remains down, with its front page simply stating “site is under maintenance.” Around the same time, 66,163 bitcoins began moving:
The assets are seemingly being split through numerous blockchain addresses, potentially to obfuscate movement, with 35,000 now left in one address which will likely continue to move.
At the same time, Reuters reports Alexander Vinnik, a 38 year old Russian man “suspected of laundering at least $4 billion of criminal funds by switching them into the digital currency bitcoin,” was arrested in Greece at the request of US Authorities who hope to extradite him to America.
“Since 2011 the 38-year-old has been running a criminal organization which administers one of the most important websites of electronic crime in the world,” police said, with an estimated $4 billion laundered “through a bitcoin platform since 2011.”
BTC-e begun operating around that time and had a general reputation within this space of being shady, to say the least, but had reliably withstood hacks and other fallbacks, gaining the trust of some, with the exchange one of the biggest for bitcoin and litecoin trading.
Moreover, a Coindesk article written all the way back in 2014 states:
“A spokesperson implied that BTC-e faces little risk, as it does not have any offices in Russia or work with any Russian banks. Its founders Aleksey and Alexander, while residents of Russia, are not citizens.”
The full names of BTC-e founders were unknown in this space, but the coincidences appear to be too numerous for Alexander Vinnik, the man arrested, to be someone else other than the BTC-e founder.
Not least because few, if any other platform, has been operating for so long, handling so much volume at 7 million bitcoins in deposits and 5.5 million bitcoins in withdrawals.
There has now been official confirmation from US authorities on the matter, but it remains unknown whether they have access to the bitcoins or who is moving them.
Meanwhile, Greek local papers are reporting confirmation he is behind BTC-e, while in a bombshell of sorts, there are claims he stole or laundered the MT Gox coins.