On July 21, a French judge decided to transfer the case of the alleged operator of the BTC-e exchange Alexander Vinnik to a correctional court. The date of the first meeting is scheduled for September 14.
This was announced by Vinnik’s French lawyer Frederic Belo. He added that it is not yet clear whether a hearing will be held on the merits of the case, or whether it will be a preliminary court session, during which the parties will only present their arguments. The protection is waiting for confirmation of this information. The first part of the meeting will last for several days. Belo added that Vinnik is charged on 14 counts: extortion, participation in a criminal group, money laundering, illegal access to data processing systems, including personal data, and a number of other charges.
According to the French lawyer, Vinnik considers himself a victim of the current circumstances, since he calls himself only a simple performer. He had no intention of committing a crime against people affected by the Locky malware, which encrypted documents without their knowledge and demanded a ransom in cryptocurrency to decode and recover data. Vinnik claims that he was hired through Internet forums as an ordinary performer.
“Vinnik simply performed the tasks assigned to him and did not even suspect that his actions were illegal. Vinnik’s employers assured that his actions had passed the necessary verification of banks and platforms, met all the requirements of the law, and therefore were absolutely legal. The client did not interact with other operators and received only the information that the employers provided to him. He received nothing from the money obtained in the course of the machinations, but received only payment for his labor, being deceived, ”said Vinnik’s French lawyer Frederic Belo.
According to Belo, Vinnik is being put up as one of the founders of the already defunct cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, although he had nothing to do with its creation and was not even familiar with the real owners, which is quite acceptable for the format of remote work. All this has a depressing effect on the psyche of Vinnik, who has been in prison for several years. The situation is aggravated by the coronavirus epidemic, due to which Vinnik is deprived of the opportunity to visit lawyers and live communication with his family.
Recall that Alexander Vinnik was detained in Greece on July 25, 2017 at the request of the American special services, accusing him of money laundering from $ 4 billion to $ 9 billion through the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange. In January, Vinnik was forcibly taken to France, where he still remains under arrest. Until the end of June, the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece was to decide on appeals on the illegality of Vinnik’s extradition to France.