Crypto News: The United States has filed charges against two Russian nationals, Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner, for their alleged involvement in the notorious hack of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange, Mt. Gox, as well as the operation of the illicit crypto exchange BTC-e. The Department of Justice (DOJ) made the announcement on Friday, shedding light on the extent of the criminal activities and their financial implications.
Justice Department Takes Action Against Mt. Gox Hackers
According to the statement released by the DOJ, Bilyuchenko, 43, and Verner, 29, are accused of conspiring to launder approximately 647,000 Bitcoins that were stolen during the Mt. Gox hack. As reported earlier on CoinGape, Mt. Gox — once the largest Bitcoin exchange globally — faced a catastrophic collapse in 2014 after losing around $500 million worth of the digital currency. At the current Bitcoin price, the value of the stolen Bitcoins amounts to over $17 billion.
The incident came to light when Ryan Selkis, the founder of Messari, published an internal document in February 2014, revealing the loss of nearly 750,000 BTC by Mt. Gox. This disclosure led to a halt in the exchange’s operations and sent shockwaves through the cryptocurrency community.
Russian Nationals Face Charges For Money Laundering Scheme
Additionally, the DOJ has charged Bilyuchenko with conspiring with Alexander Vinnik, another individual linked to BTC-e, to operate the illicit crypto exchange between 2011 and 2017. However, BTC-e was subsequently shut down by U.S. authorities in 2017 and Vinnik was extradited to the United States last year in connection with the investigation into BTC-e.
While speaking on the latest development, DOJ Assistant Attorney Kenneth Polite was quoted as saying:
Armed with the ill-gotten gains from Mt. Gox, Bilyuchenko allegedly went on to help set up the notorious BTC-e virtual currency exchange, which laundered funds for cyber criminals worldwide.
In a further development, the DOJ alleged that Bilyuchenko, Verner, and other unidentified co-conspirators utilized an undisclosed New York-based Bitcoin brokerage service to launder funds, ultimately transferring more than $6.6 million into overseas bank accounts. The DOJ claimed that the brokerage facilitated the laundering of over 300,000 BTC, shedding light on the scale of the illicit financial activities.
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