Alexander Vinnik, a Russian national suspected of orchestrating a $4 billion bitcoin fraud has lodged an appeal with a Greek court for his extradition to Russia, this according to Greek media outlet Kathimerini, March 21, 2019.
Vinnik is the former operator of the defunct Russian cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e. The exchange is said to have laundered close to $4 billion of Mt. Gox funds over the course of six years. Vinnik was arrested in July 2017 in Greece on a request from the United States Department of Justice for allegedly laundering billions of dollars in bitcoin.
In the latest development, Vinnik has filed an appeal with Piraeus court for his release to Russia citing humanitarian reasons.
Per sources in the know of the matter, the Russian national has been on a hunger strike for three months and was recently moved to a local hospital due to deteriorating health. Vinnik’s lawyers argue that their client’s health is at a huge risk and that the charges against him are completely baseless.
The suspect’s legal representatives have also lambasted the Greek judicial system for detaining Vinnik for more than the maximum permitted pre-trial period of 18 months.
France Wants Vinnik Too
Although Vinnik’s alleged crimes mostly pertain to the U.S. and Russia, recently France has also sought to extradite Vinnik to the country on the grounds of cryptocurrency fraud. France accused Vinnik of defrauding more than 100 people in six French cities between 2016 and 2018.
BTCManager reported on July 17, 2018, how a Greek court ordered the extradition of Vinnik to France for his alleged involvement in corrupt practices related to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
In response, Russia lashed out at France when it’s Foreign Ministry warned in a statement that “Russia cannot leave these actions unanswered.”
While the three countries, the U.S., Russia, and France lock horns to nab Vinnik, it is the Greek judicial system that is facing the brunt of the whole mishap. The Greek Ministry of Justice has to also examine the request for political asylum by Vinnik.
Things took a more dramatic turn on February 27, 2019, when the Russian Commissioner for Human Rights, Tatyana Moskalkova, issued a letter to Michalis Kalogir, Minister of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights of Greece, requesting for the extradition of Vinnik to Russia.