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    Russian Operator of BTC-e Crypto Exchange Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering

    Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national, has confessed to money laundering charges related to his involvement in the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, which operated from 2011 to 2017.

    Vinnik, 44, was arrested in Greece in July 2017 and subsequently extradited to the United States in August 2022. He and his associates are accused of managing BTC-e, an exchange known for facilitating anonymous Bitcoin transactions, catering to cybercriminals globally.

    According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), BTC-e processed over $9 billion in transactions and amassed more than $4 billion worth of Bitcoin during its operations. Despite conducting substantial business in the U.S., the exchange was not registered as a money services business with the U.S. Department of Treasury and failed to implement required anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols.

    Vinnik faces multiple charges, including operating an unlicensed money service business, conspiracy to commit money laundering, money laundering, and engaging in unlawful monetary transactions. The DoJ alleges that Vinnik’s actions resulted in losses exceeding $121 million.

    Earlier this year, another BTC-e operator, Aliaksandr Klimenka, a citizen of Belarus and Cyprus, was also charged by the U.S. government for money laundering and operating an unlicensed money services business.

    Following Vinnik’s arrest in 2017, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) imposed a $110 million civil money penalty on BTC-e for AML violations, along with an additional $12 million penalty on Vinnik personally.

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