BTC-e Domain Seized by U.S. Law Enforcement
BTC-e was a cryptocurrency trading platform until the U.S. government seized their website. It was founded in July 2011 and as of February 2015 handled around 3% of all Bitcoin exchange volume. Until the 25th of July 2017, it allowed trading between the U. S. dollar, Russian ruble and euro currencies, and the bitcoin, litecoin, namecoin, novacoin, peercoin, dash and ethereum cryptocurrencies.
BTC-e was operated by ALWAYS EFFICIENT LLP which is registered in London and is listed as having 2 officers: Sandra Gina Esparon and Evaline Sophie Joubert and two people with significant control: Alexander Buyanov and Andrii Shvets.
The US Justice Dept attempted to close down BTC-e on the 26th of July 2017 when they charged Alexander Vinnik and BTC-e in a 21-count indictment for operating an alleged international money laundering scheme and allegedly laundering funds from the hack of Mt. Gox.
BTC-e started in July 2011, handling a few coin pairs, including Bitcoin/U. S. dollar and I0Coin to Bitcoin. By October 2011, they supported many different currency pairs, including Litecoin to dollars, Bitcoin to rubles and RuCoin to rubles.
During 2013 and 2014, BTC-e had many outages related to distributed denial of service attacks. They later began using the reverse proxy service CloudFlare to help mitigate these attacks, reducing downtime for the exchange.
The BTC-e website went offline on 25 July 2017, following the arrest of BTC-e staff members and the seizure of server equipment at one of their data centres. These events led to the closure of the BTC-e service.
On 28 July 2017, US authorities seized the BTC-e.com domain name and 38% of all customer funds. To repay its customers BTC-e created WEX tokens, which were used to represent customers' stolen equity. The WEX tokens represented $1 and were issued to account for the value of customers cryptocurrencies at the time of the theft.
On 25 July 2017, suspected BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik was arrested at the behest of the United States Justice Department while vacationing with his family in Greece. Wanted for money laundering by both France and Russia, in addition to the US. Vinnik agreed to be returned to Russia, where he was charged only with fraud. In October 2017 the extradition request by Russia was approved by one Greek court, but the request by the United States was approved by another. The decision to extradite Vinnik to the United States was upheld by the Greek Supreme Court on December 13, 2017. However, in July 2018 Greece agreed to extradite Vinnik to France instead, giving precendence to the European warrant.A final ruling is scheduled for September 19, though Vinnik's lawyer claims that "the decision on Vinnik's extradition to Russia has been made".
A plot to murder Vinnik in prison was uncovered in early 2018. In September 2018, Bloomberg News reported on a potential link between Vinnik and Russian hacking group and intelligence service Fancy Bear. An Elliptic blockchain analysis of a bitcoin transaction linked Vinnik's former employer, BTC-e to the group and this strengthened the American interest of extradiction. Vinnik maintains his innocence of any wrongdoing, but has chosen to cooperate from Greece.
- Benjamin Guttmann (2014). "The Bitcoin Bible Gold Edition". Books on Demand. pp. 175–176. ISBN 9783732296965.
- "Russian National And Bitcoin Exchange Charged In 21-Count Indictment For Operating Alleged International Money Laundering Scheme And Allegedly Laundering Funds From Hack Of Mt. Gox". United States Department of Justice. 26 Jul 2017. Retrieved 22 Oct 2018.
- "Bitcoin Exchanges Market Share". Bitcoinity. Retrieved 2015-02-10.
- Del Rey, Jason (September 11, 2013). "What's a Bitcoin Really Worth? CoinDesk Thinks It Has the Answer". All Things D. Retrieved 22 Oct 2018.
- "ALWAYS EFFICIENT LLP - Overview". Companies House. Retrieved 22 Oct 2018.
- "Vinnik Superseding Indictment Redacted for U.S. District Court Northern District of California San Francisco Division Case No CR 16-00227 SI". United States Department of Justice. Archived from the original on 17 Jan 2017.
- BTC-e (2011-10-25). "Start trading on a pairs of BTC/RUB, LTC/USD, RUC/RUB, USD/RUB!". Archived from the original on 2015-11-21. Retrieved 2015-11-20.
- "Russian National And Bitcoin Exchange Charged In 21-Count Indictment For Operating Alleged International Money Laundering Scheme And Allegedly Laundering Funds From Hack Of Mt. Gox". United States Department of Justice. 26 Jul 2017.
- Associated Press (2017-07-26). "Russian wanted in US caught in Greece for money laundering". The Daily Star Newspaper - Lebanon. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
- "Greek top court clears way for U.S. extradition of Russian cybercrime". Reuters. 13 December 2017. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
- "Greek Police Uncover Plan to Kill Russian National Arrested in Greece - Source". Sputnik News. 2018-10-05. Retrieved 2018-10-22.
- Kantouris, Costas (2018-07-13). "Russia blasts Greece over cybercrime suspect's extradition". AP News. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
- Chrepa, Eleni; Kharif, Olga (2018-09-04). "Bitcoin Suspect Could Shed Light on Russian Mueller Targets". Bloomberg News. Kartikay Mehrotra. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
- "Greece's top court greenlights Russian citizen's extradition to Russia, says attorney". TASS. 2018-09-04. Retrieved 2018-10-22.