The Department of Justice announced indictments Friday against two Russian nationals who allegedly hacked a now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange business.
The 43-year-old Alexey Bilyuchenko and 29-year-old Aleksandr Verner are charged with conspiring to launder around 647,000 Bitcoins from the Japanese-based Mt. Gox, which operated from 2010 to 2014.
Bilyuchenko is also charged with conspiring alongside Alexander Vinnik, a Russian scammer already serving five years in prison for money laundering, to operate the illicit cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e.
BTC-e was shuttered in 2017 following the arrest of its staff members on suspicion of abetting roughly $4 billion in money laundering by U.S. law enforcement.
"As alleged, Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner thought they could outsmart the law by using sophisticated hacks to steal and launder massive amounts of cryptocurrency," stated Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
"But the charges unsealed demonstrate our ability to tenaciously pursue these alleged criminals, no matter how complex their schemes, until they are brought to justice," he added.
According to the federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, the defendants allegedly gained access to a server holding Mt. Gox's crypto wallets, to illegally transfer digital assets to Bitcoin addresses they controlled.
The trio and their co-conspirators are also accused of entering into a fraudulent advertising contract with a New York Bitcoin broker to conceal and liquidate the bitcoins stolen from Mt. Gox.
From there, the Manhattan court said that various offshore bank accounts and shell corporations were used to transfer more than approximately $6.6 million, with the New York broker receiving credit in return.
The second indictment brought up by the federal District Court for the Northern District of California surrounds the claim that Bilyuchenko operated the BTC-e exchange with his co-conspirators.
"For years, Bilyuchenko and his co-conspirators allegedly operated a digital currency exchange that enabled criminals around the world ... to launder billions of dollars," said Ismail J. Ramsey, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California.
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