The Greece Supreme Court has finally come to a unanimous decision and ruled to extradite a Russian money laundering suspect in favor of the United States’ request. It was after Washington DC and Moscow were involved in a tug-of-war on who will get to put the suspected cybercriminal on trial.
The suspected hacker who is identified as Alexander Vinnik has been charged with laundering billions of dollars’ worth Bitcoins from a company he is alleged to own. The 38-year-old hacker was facing charges in both the U.S. and back in his home country of Russia, all related to money laundering.
Tug-of-War Between Russia & U.S.
The team of lawyers representing Vinnik has been working for an extended period to convince the Supreme Court jury to extradite him to Russia. This is after the Russian government accused the suspect of a lesser crime, likely to result in a lesser punishment in comparison to that of the U.S.
Previous reports indicated that if Vinnik were to be extradited to the U.S., he is likely to be imprisoned for more than 50 years. This was the primary cause of alarm to Vinnik and his team of lawyers, and thus motivated their push for extradition to Russia.
At the moment, the Greece Supreme Court has already ruled for the suspect to be extradited to U.S. jurisdiction to face the charges against him. The judges in the Greece Supreme Court concluded the case after the said cybercriminal directed most of his attacks on U.S.-based companies and individuals.
Vinnik is cited to deny all the accusations directed to him except for those from the Russian government, as it is said to have lesser charges. This is also the reason Vinnik’s lawyers pushed for their client to be extradited to his home country of Russia.
According to the charges that Vinnik will face in the U.S., he is accused of laundering $4 billion (in Bitcoins) through a company known as BTC-e which he is purported to be the operator.
BTC-e was a highly popular and pioneering digital currency exchange until the domain was seized by authorities this year. Later, investigations revealed that the funds and transactions that passed through this exchange site were believed to be fraud-related and unlawful.
The Latest in Bitcoin-Related Cybercrime
In the recent times, Bitcoin has enjoyed a significant spike in value over its peer digital currencies. Within the last few months, it has almost crossed the $20,000 mark. Since Bitcoin is not regulated by any government or central body, it is left in the full control of the current holders and their wallets.
This incentivizes hackers to increase their efforts to compromise genuine Bitcoin wallet platforms worldwide, in order to siphon the Bitcoins into their own wallets. Increasingly, hackers have also been targeting mining companies, and anonymously they end up stealing their Bitcoin funds.
Companies that run on cryptocurrencies are heavily investing in strengthening their security features regularly to keep up with dynamic hacking forces. Most of the investors are concerned with the high level of cybercrime involved with cryptocurrencies.
Any Bitcoin transaction involved between two parties masks their location or identity. This greatly enhances the ability of hackers to clean their ill-earned money through cryptocurrency all in the bid of erasing the transaction trail.
Concerned parties and investors are asking for a form of regulatory law in the Bitcoin world. It is all in the bid of controlling the rising level of hacking seen recently by cybercriminals who are seeking to steal Bitcoins from unsuspecting users.
What’s Next for Vinnik?
According to the U.S., extraditing Alexander Vinnik will have an impact on how the public perceives Bitcoin-related crime as a concept.
Authorities have been collecting crucial evidence on Vinnik’s case for some time now, clearly enough to convince the Greece Supreme Court that he should be extradited to U.S. jurisdiction.
At the moment, all eyes are towards the final decision that will be made by the U.S. authorities once Vinnik faces charges in the country. International observers fear he will not get a fair trial, considering the assumption that he affected millions of Americans through his scams.
Meanwhile, hackers in Russia—as well as those who affiliate with the country—are likely to act more cautiously after this case. This is in the bid to avoid being caught by law enforcement from the United States. But at same time, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is ramping up their efforts to stop these hackers in their tracks.
And on continues the cat and mouse game into 2018.
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