Crypto businessman Aleksandr Vinnik was taken from Greece to the US in what his family described as a ‘kidnapping’
A Russian crypto entrepreneur accused by the US of laundering billions of dollars has apparently been handed over to US custody by Greece, days after Athens secured his extradition from France. Aleksandr Vinnik’s family said on Friday he was taken to Boston overnight on a private jet and then moved to San Francisco after phoning them.
“Everything was staged as a kidnapping” the family was quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.
Earlier in the week, French authorities authorized Greece to take charge of Vinnik. His French lawyer, Frédéric Belo, suggested that the extradition was a “deceptive maneuver” which would be followed by his transfer to the United States.
Vinnik was arrested in Greece in 2017 at the request of the US government, which accused him of using the now-defunct BTC-e cryptocurrency trading platform to launder between 4 and 9 billion of dollars.
France had its own money laundering case against Vinnik and secured his transfer from Greece in 2019. He went on trial and was sentenced to five years in prison.
The United States withdrew its request for Vinnik’s extradition from France last month, leading his defense team to suspect that US authorities had opted for a backdoor way to obtain it.
Russia also wants Vinnik to stand trial for allegedly illegally obtaining 750 million rubles ($12.2 million) via “computer fraud” and stole 600,000 rubles ($9,780).
Vinnik’s lawyer said he would prefer to face justice in his home country to be closer to his family.
The businessman denied any wrongdoing, saying the US charges against him were baseless. He faces up to 55 years in prison in the United States if convicted.