The lawyer of Alexander Vinnik, the alleged founder of BTC-e who MT Gox’s founder Mark Karpeles has accused of stealing billions worth of BTC, has died in an accident according to local reports.
“Timofei Sergeevich Musatov died yesterday [23 April 2020] in an accident in Moscow. This is all we can say so far,” local media says they were told by an unnamed source.
Musatov (pictured on the left with Vinnik) was a prominent Russian lawyer practicing at the International Solicitors and Lawyers firm.
He “had been getting ready to travel to Athens to attend a court session regarding the appeal on the Greek Supreme Court’s decision to extradite Vinnik to France,” they say.
No detail appears to be available on what accident occurred exactly, when exactly or where.
A fierce legal battle has been going on in Greece over Vinnik’s extradition with even Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, apparently personally lobbying for him to be sent to Russia.
Vinnik was arrested in Greece at the request of American authorities in 2017. USA wants him in America. Russia wants him in Russia. Greek authorities decided to send him to France with Vinnik calling that a death sentence, hence the appeal that was now to be heard before this latest twist in an astonishing story.
US agents became involved with MT Gox probably in early 2013 likely during their investigation of the original Silk Road.
MT Gox back then was pretty much the only place where you could buy bitcoin, with a natural significant flow of bitcoins from that exchange to the Silk Road drug bazaar.
Some US agents even appropriated some bitcoin for their own personal gain, with US authorities charging them back in ancient times (2014?) where this space is concerned.
MT Gox is known to have had 950,000 bitcoins, known because their databases were leaked, everything was leaked.
Some 200,000 of these coins were found, leaving 750,000 stolen somehow, by some people, at some time, which remains unkown.
When Vinnik was arrested Karpeles alleged 400,000 of those stolen coins were laundered through BTC-e, a long defunct exchange known at the time for being so shady to the point you can trust them to not exit scam.
America alleges Russian agents used BTC-e to get bitcoin to pay for the equipment that was used to hack Hillary Clinton.
BTC-e was seized in 2017 by US services, with an identical looking exchange called WEX propping up almost immediately.
All suspected, including FSB, that this was just BTC-e but under a new domain as clearly the agents had seized some poster – the website – and not the servers and databases or crucially, the private keys.
An alleged leak reported by the BBC Russian service suggests 30,000 bitcoins were handed over to FSB (former KGB) by the alleged operator of WEX with FSB apparently believing they were not handed over all the coins that they probably have evidence as belonging to BTC-e or being within their possession at the time of the arrest of Vinnik.
Finally that leak refers to the database of users which the alleged WEX operator was reluctant to hand over with it unclear whether he did ever hand it over or otherwise.
In addition a Russian law firm, Zheleznikov & Partners, “claims to have identified an unspecified number of alleged criminals in Russia who may have direct or indirect access to bitcoin wallets which may or may not be holding some of the missing MtGox bitcoins.”
This law firm was offering creditors 50% of recovered funds if they agree to assist.
To wrap it all up, we also have in this story about 10,000 creditors across the globe to whom these 750,000 bitcoins rightfully belong with it probable most of these creditors were or are the cream or close to the cream of their generation.
So the only thing missing here for a blockbuster for history is some sex somewhere.