A US jury has indicted the operator of BTC-e Alexander Vinnik on 26 July, following his arrest in a Greek village on the previous day.
BTC-e has been in operation trading bitcoin since 2011, and the US justice department claims that it was used to launder over $4 billion for criminals involved in activities ranging from hacking to drug trafficking.
Authorities are also linking Vinnik to the collapse of Japan-based bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, which failed in 2014 due to being hacked.
Brian Stretch, US attorney for the Nothern District of California, (where Vinnik was indicted) said:
“Just as new computer technologies continue to change the way we engage each other and experience the world, so too will criminals subvert these new technologies to serve their own nefarious purposes.”
Series of operations
According to the Guardian, the arrest of Vinnik is part of a series of operations by US authorities to tackle Russian cybercrime in Europe.
The recent takedown of the dark web marketplaces AlphaBay and Hansa are part of these ongoing operations.
The US alleges that Vinnik, through his role of operator of the BTC-e exchange, facilitated crimes ranging from hacking, identity theft, drug trafficking and various types of fraud.
The site was known as having a relaxed standard for checking user identity and had a history of non-compliance with authorities.
The BTC-e site was been out of action for more than 24 hours, due to ‘unplanned maintenance’.