Alexander Vinnik’s sentence to five years in prison has been upheld by a French court as a penalty for committing money laundering.
The five-year prison sentence imposed on BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik by a Paris court of appeals has been maintained.
Vinnik/BTC-e had committed money laundering as part of an organized criminal group and gave false information about the origin of the funds, according to a December 2020 verdict and prison term upheld by the court.
Several requests by Vinnik’s defense team, including a request to examine copies of FBI material, were denied by the Parisian court. Vinnik was also excused from a fine of 100,000 Euros that had been imposed as part of the December conviction.
Vinnik was originally charged with deploying ransomware to scam over 200 people, but the court absolved him of the accusations in December.
According to Russian state news site TAAS, the prosecution office had requested a lower fine, expressing reservations that he would be able to compensate the victims of his crimes.
According to French law, the defense team must file a cassation appeal within five days.
The Russian computer specialist was originally seized at the request of the US while on vacation in Greece in July 2017.
While operating the now-defunct crypto exchange BTC-e, he is accused by the US of laundering more than $4 billion.
Vinnik was extradited to France in January 2020, where he was sentenced to five years in jail in December.
Vinnik’s lawyer, Frédéric Bélot, is concerned that after the sentence, Greek authorities may want him repatriated to Greece to face extradition to the United States on similar accusations.
Russia has also requested extradition, citing humanitarian concerns. After Vinnik went on hunger strike in Greece in November 2018, Tatiana Moskalkova, the Russian human rights ombudswoman, asked the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to vouch for Vinnik’s return to Russia.
She underlined Vinnik’s and his wife’s failing health at the time, since both had been diagnosed with brain cancer.
However, it has been suggested that Russia’s extradition request is motivated by a desire to prevent sensitive information about its intelligence operations from falling into the hands of foreign adversaries, with some analysts suggesting that Russian intelligence agencies may have used BTC-e to obtain Bitcoin for classified operations.
Vinnik would be charged with “fraud in the field of computer information” in Russia if extradited.