In an announcement by the United States authorities, another arrest has been made in connection with the BTC-e cybercrime case involving a Belarusian and Cypriot individual. The person in question, Aliaksandr Klimenka, aged 42, is now in U.S. custody and is facing charges related to money laundering, as revealed by federal prosecutors on Thursday.
Klimenka is alleged to have played a key role in the operation of BTC-e, described as a “significant cybercrime and online money laundering entity” that facilitated bitcoin trading with heightened anonymity. The Department of Justice emphasized that the platform had cultivated a user base heavily intertwined with criminal activities.
The indictment against Klimenka, originally filed in 2022, was unsealed on Thursday. Prosecutors claim that from 2011 to 2017, bitcoins stolen during a notorious attack on another exchange, Mt. Gox, were utilized to sustain the operations of BTC-e. Notably, a figure implicated in the Mt. Gox case, Alexander Vinnik, is accused of laundering $4 billion in digital currency through BTC-e and had previously expressed interest in a potential prisoner swap with Russia.
The Department of Justice had previously implicated two other Russian nationals in the Mt. Gox case last year.
Aliaksandr Klimenka was apprehended in Latvia on December 21 and appeared in a San Francisco federal court on Wednesday. If convicted on all charges of money laundering conspiracy and operating an unlicensed money services business, he could face up to 25 years in prison.
In addition to his alleged involvement with BTC-e, Klimenka is said to have controlled Soft-FX, a technology services company, and FX Open, a financial company, according to the DOJ.
The department highlighted that BTC-e’s servers, situated in the United States, were purportedly a primary means through which the platform and its operators executed their scheme. It was asserted that these servers were leased and maintained by Klimenka and Soft-FX.
The DOJ’s announcement underscores the government’s position that BTC-e had violated various federal regulations. Despite conducting significant business in the United States, the platform allegedly failed to register as a money services business with the U.S. Department of Treasury. It lacked anti-money laundering processes, appropriate ‘know your customer’ or ‘KYC’ verification systems, and an anti-money laundering program mandated by federal law.