There’s a proxy war going on and you don’t even know it. For two years Russia and America have been fighting in court over Alexander Vinnik (pictured far right), the alleged founder of BTC-e who MT Gox’s founder, Mark Karpeles, has accused of stealing billions worth of BTC.
Apparently even Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, personally lobbied for him to be sent to Russia with semi successful results because the Greek’s top court first said he was to be sent to USA. Now:
“Justice Minister Costas Tsiaras decided that 40-year old Vinnik should be finally extradited to France,” one official said.
Vinnik was arrested in Greece at the request of American authorities in 2017. He himself is Russian. How we end up with France is a bit of a mystery.
MT Gox itself was based in Japan, but Karpeles is French, with that being the only connection of any of this to France.
Yet the most likely reason is because it’s a “neutral” jurisdiction in a highly political case that includes accusations of Russian intelligence agents using BTC-e to get bitcoin to buy the setup for hacking Hillary Clinton.
Yup, that’s as high as it goes with a recently leaked recording suggesting Russia’s FSB (formerly KGB) has seized some half a billion worth of bitcoin from Wex which everyone thinks was just BTC-e rebranded after US authorities seized the site of BTC-e.
Vinnik himself went on hunger strake for 88 days in November 2018 and was treated at Athen’s hospital.
Upon this Ministry of Justice decision, he has started a new hunger strike, calling the decision a “death sentence.”
He wanted to go to Russia for what you’d think are obvious reasons in light of all these allegations, but the picture gets even more complicated following an offer to MT Gox creditors by a Russian law firm for a 50% cut if they can allocate more bitcoins.
As you may know, some 800,000 bitcoins belonging to MT Gox were hacked somehow, leaving only 200,000 bitcoins and a bankrupt exchange that closed shop in February 2014.
It is alleged much of these hacked coins were laundered through BTC-e, an exchange often suspected of being so shady to the point you can trust them to not exit scam.
As it happened the exit scamming of sorts occurred by the domain seizure and the arrest, but it appears Russian authorities have taken possession of the coins, although it is just 30,000 BTC.
In the leaked recording Russian authorities were pressuring Aleksandr Bilyuchenko, who took over Wex and used to be in charge of the technical aspects of BTC-e.
They didn’t believe this 30,000 bitcoin was all of it, and more importantly they wanted the users database.
It appears that database was not handed over presumably because Bilyuchenko perhaps has reason to fear his former “customers” even more than KGB.
So now all this goes to Paris where presumably there will be some sort of trial and perhaps a test of just how independent the French judiciary really is.