A French judge on July 21 decided to transfer the case of alleged BTC-e exchange operator Alexander Vinnik to the correctional court. The date of the first meeting is scheduled for September 14.
This was reported by the French lawyer of Vinnik, Frederic Belo. He added that it was not yet clear whether the trial would be held in essence, or whether it would be a preliminary hearing of the court, during which the parties would only present their arguments. Security is waiting for confirmation of this information. The first part of the meeting will last several days. Belo added that Vinnik is charged with 14 counts: extortion, participation in a criminal group, money laundering, illegal access to data processing systems, including personal data, and a variety of other charges.
According to the French lawyer, Vinnik considers himself a victim of the circumstances, as he calls himself only a simple performer. He had no intention of committing a crime against people affected by the Locky malware, which encrypted documents without their knowledge and demanded a ransom in cryptocurrency to decode and restore data. Winnick says that he was hired through the online forums as a member of the contractor.
“Vinnik simply performed the tasks assigned to him and did not even suspect that his actions were illegal. Vinnik’s employers assured that his actions passed the necessary verification of banks and platforms, meet all the requirements of the law, so they are absolutely legal. The client did not interact with other operators and received only the information provided by his employers. He received nothing from the money obtained in the course of fraud, and received only payment for his work, being deceived,” said French lawyer Vinnik Frederic Belo.
According to Belo, Vinnik is billed as one of the founders of the already defunct BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, although he had nothing to do with its creation and was not even familiar with the real owners, which is quite acceptable for the remote work format. All this depresses the psyche of Vinnik, who has been in prison for several years. The situation is aggravated by the coronavirus epidemic, which prevents Vinnik from visiting lawyers and communicating with his family.
Recall that Alexander Vinnik was detained in Greece on July 25, 2017 at the request of American intelligence services, accusing him of laundering from $4 billion to $9 billion through the cryptocurrency exchange VTS-e. In January, Vinnik was forcibly taken to France, where he remains under arrest. By the end of June, the Supreme administrative court of Greece had to decide on appeals on the illegality of Vinnik’s extradition to France.