NZ Authorities Seize $90M From Russian Computer Genius Alexander Vinnik
June 22, 2020 2:37 pm
New Zealand police have seized $90 million connected to the case against suspected Bitcoin money launderer Alexander Vinnik.
According to Jared Savage at the New Zealand Herald, the police Asset Recovery Unit has frozen roughly 140 million NZD ($90 million) controlled by a company in connection to the investigation of Vinnik.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster informed the publication that local authorities had been coordinating with the United States Internal Revenue Service to address the lost funds. According to Coster,
“The money seized is likely to reflect the profit gained from the victimisation of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people globally as a result of cybercrime and organised crime.”
Money launderer Under arrest
Vinnik was accused of laundering 300,000 Bitcoin (BTC)—roughly $4 billion—over six years through BTC-e, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges at the time. Some of the ill-gotten funds may even have come from the infamous hack of Japan-based crypto exchange Mt. Gox.
The arrest warrant was originally issued by the US Ministry of Justice and relates to activities involving the use of Bitcoin stretching back to 2011. The Russian national known as “Mr. Bitcoin” was on a family holiday in Greece in July 2017 when he was arrested by local police, on an extradition warrant from United States authorities implicating him of facilitating money laundering, identity theft, drug trafficking and computer hacking and extradited to France earlier this year.
The 37-year-old, Vinnik is a Russian citizen, is still in France awaiting charges of money laundering, extortion and conspiracy but could be extradited to the United States or his native Russia.