New Zealand freezes assets of Russian cyber criminal Alexander Vinnik

New Zealand police had frozen NZ$140 million (US$90 million) in assets linked to a Russian cyber criminal.

New Zealand police announced that they had frozen NZ$140 million (US$90 million) in assets linked to the Russian nation Alexander Vinnik.

Alexander Vinnik is currently in France to face a charge of money laundering for organised crime using crypto-currency.

Alexander Vinnik allegedly headed the Bitcoin exchange BTC-e, he is charged with different hacking crimes in Russia, France, and the United States.

In September, Greek Police have arrested the Russian national Alexander Vinnik (38) and they accuse the man of running the BTC-e Bitcoin exchange to launder more than US$4bn worth of the cryptocurrency.

The authorities reported that since 2011, 7 million Bitcoin went into the BTC-e exchange and 5.5 million withdrawn.

According to the Greek media outlet the Daily Thess, the FBI tracked Alexander Vinnik for more than a year.

The man is charged by the US authorities with fraud and money laundering for more than $4 billion worth amount of Bitcoin (BTC) resulting from criminal activities, the US prosecutors requested his extradition in July 2017.

Vinnik is also accused to be responsible for the failure of the Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.Mt. Gox was the biggest Bitcoin exchange at the time of the shut down in 2014 that occurred after the platform was the victim of a series of cyber heists for a total of $375 million in Bitcoin.

The U.S. authorities speculate the Russian man stole funds from Mt. Gox, with the help of an insider. The stolen funds were transferred to a wallet managed by Vinnik and funds were laundered through his platform BTC-e-service during a three-year period.

In July 2018 there was a twist, a Greek lower court agreed to extradite Vinnik to France to face with charges with hacking, money laundering, extortion and involvement in organized crime.

French authorities accused Vinnik of defrauding more than 100 people in six French cities between 2016 and 2018.

Now the New Zeland police discovered some funds belonging to Vinnik that were being held in a local company.

“These funds are 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,” commissioner Andrew Coster said.

Coster added that New Zealand police had worked closely with the US Internal Revenue Service on the case, he added that the investigation is still ongoing.

“The global criminal community need to understand New Zealand’s financial system, and companies established here, are not the places to try to hide illicit income,” Coster said.

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