The U.S. Department of Justice has published an indictment in the case of the Russian-rooted crypto exchange BTC-e.
According to the official statement, the main defendant is Belarusian Aliaksandr Klimenka, who managed the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange from 2011 to July 2017, together with Russian Alexander Vinnik.
Klimenka is charged with “conspiracy to launder money” and “running a business providing financial services without a license.” The estimated volume of laundered funds is estimated at $4 billion.
Klimenka, as the American justice believes, conducted “extensive business” in the United States without registering the BTC-e exchange as a payment system with the U.S. Department of the Treasury and also bypassed anti-money laundering rules and “know your customer” (KYC) requirements ) provided for by federal law.
The BTC-e exchange provided the ability to trade Bitcoin (BTC) anonymously and “developed a customer base that was highly dependent on criminal activity,” law enforcement said. BTC-e servers in the United States were a vital tool for carrying out criminal activities and were allegedly supported by Klimenka and his company Soft-FX.
“Klimenka also allegedly controlled Soft-FX, a technology services company, and FX Open, a financial company.”
If Klimenka is found guilty, he faces a maximum prison sentence of 25 years. He is the latest to face criminal charges in the investigation into the activities of the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, including Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik.
American law enforcement agencies closed BTC-e in 2017, and Vinnik was arrested near Thessaloniki, Greece. After serving part of his sentence in a Greek prison and then undergoing trial in France, Vinnik was finally extradited to the United States in 2022. The U.S. Department of Justice also accused Vinnik of money laundering and other crimes.
After Vinnik’s arrest, administrators tried to relaunch the exchange under the WEX brand, but it soon closed, and most of its users could not withdraw funds. The case is still being considered in court in Moscow.