The judges council in Saloniki, Greece, has granted the U.S. request to extradite Russian national Alexander Vinnik, the prime suspect in the money laundering case involving cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e.
Mr. Vinnik faces 55 years in prison as well as a multi million fine. His lawyers intend to challenge the court ruling in Greece’s supreme court within the next 24 hours.
Mr. Vinnik pleaded not guilty, however, he admitted he was working at BTC-e as an independent technical expert.
“I have nothing to do with the BTC-e website. I’m not the owner, nor am I its manager or accountant. I’m an independent technical expert, and they were but one of my clients,” he stated.
Earlier, spokespersons for BTC-e have rebutted Mr. Vinnik’s connection to the exchange on numerous occasions, even though he later stated that he was “performing his duty” at BTC-e.
Earlier, the court postponed the hearing due to “high amount of involved materials.” The defendant’s lawyers called the prosecutor’s phrasing “unsubstantiated” and expected their client to be extradited to Russia.
Mr. Vinnik was detained in Greece July 25th upon the request by the U.S. law enforcement that accused him on 21 charges, including laundering of $4 billion and creating BTC-e for illicit monetary operations. They also suspected him of involvement in the Mt.Gox collapse.
In Russia, Mr. Vinnik also faces charges of large scale fraud. August 11th, a Russian court has ruled in absentia that he shall be arrested, and a week later Greece received Russia’s request to extradite Mr. Vinnik to Russia.
Mr. Vinnik himself agreed to the latter.