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Russian suspected cybercrime kingpin pleads guilty in US, TASS reports

Published 05/04/2024, 04:14 AM
Updated 05/04/2024, 04:25 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Alexander Vinnik, a 38 year old Russian man suspected of running a money laundering operation using bitcoin, is escorted by police officers to a court in Athens, Greece December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Costas Baltas/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Alexander Vinnik, a Russian suspected cybercrime kingpin who was arrested in Greece in 2017, convicted of money laundering in France three years later and is now awaiting trial in California, has pleaded partially guilty, TASS news agency cited his lawyer as saying on Saturday.

The lawyer, Arkady Bukh, said that as a result of the plea bargain he now expected Vinnik to get a prison term of less than 10 years.

"He pleaded guilty on a restricted number of charges," TASS quoted Bukh as saying, adding that Vinnik had faced life imprisonment.

"The culmination of the negotiations was a deal with the prosecutor's office. We expect that the prison term will be up to 10 years."

Vinnik, accused of laundering more than $4 billion through the digital currency bitcoin, was arrested in 2017 in Greece at the request of the United States, although Moscow has repeatedly demanded he be returned to Russia.

He was extradited to France from Greece where he was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering before he was sent back to Greece and then on to the United States in 2022.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Alexander Vinnik, a 38 year old Russian man suspected of running a money laundering operation using bitcoin, is escorted by police officers to a court in Athens, Greece December 13, 2017. REUTERS/Costas Baltas/File Photo

The U.S. Department of Justice has said Vinnik "allegedly owned, operated, and administrated BTC-e, a significant cybercrime and online money laundering entity that allowed its users to trade in bitcoin with high levels of anonymity and developed a customer base heavily reliant on criminal activity."

The maximum penalty for the U.S. charges against Vinnik is 55 years in prison, according to the U.S. Department of Justice website.

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