A Paris court will begin hearing an appeal on May 18 in the case of Russian Alexander Vinnik, accused of laundering between $4 billion and $9 billion through the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange and sentenced to five years in prison.
Vinnik was arrested in Greece in July 2017. He is accused of money laundering and participating in the creation of Locky software for conducting hacker attacks for the purpose of extortion. The US Attorney’s Office claims that Vinnik is the co-founder of the BTC-e exchange, which was closed at the same time as his arrest. The defendant denies all charges and claims that he worked with BTC-e only as a client and consultant.
In January 2020, Vinnik was forcibly removed from a Greek hospital and extradited to France, despite his serious health condition. In December last year, the court dismissed some of the charges against Vinnik, sentencing him to five years in prison and a fine of €100,000.
Vinnik’s defense appealed the verdict of the Paris court. The appeal hearing date is set for May 18, and the hearing will last until June 8. Vinnik’s French lawyer, Frederic Belo, demanded that several more information technology specialists be involved in the process. They will study the materials provided by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). We are talking about copies of the hard drive of the Mac Pro computer and data from the mobile phone. Vinnik is considered the owner of these items, and without conducting a thorough examination.
Belo said that the experts involved in the investigation conducted an “accelerated” investigation due to lack of time and funds. According to him, the investigation and the defense did not have access to the original data. Naturally, this state of affairs does not suit Vinnik’s defense, so during the next hearing, his lawyers intend to present the results of their own expertise.
“When I was arrested almost four years ago, it turned my whole life upside down. And for you, this is just another criminal case, ” Vinnik said in his appeal to the judge.
The prosecutor’s office also filed a counter-appeal against the court’s verdict, including the points on which the charges against Vinnik were dropped. Instead of five years in prison, the prosecutor demands to convict Vinnik for 10 years.