BBC: Russian Intelligence Linked to $450M Bitcoin Disappearance
According to a BBC investigation published on Nov. 15 that Russia’s intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has connected with the collapse of the Wex cryptocurrency exchange in 2018. Russian intelligence agency could be behind the disappearance of $ 450 million worth of cryptocurrency from an online exchange platform. One of the website’s co-founders stated that he was forced to hand over the client’s wallet data and said that the amount of about 450 million dollars would be transferred to “The FSB fund”.
Co-founder Alexander Vinnik for the past six years has been charged with fraud and money laundering of $ 4 billion worth of Bitcoin who revealed new information allegedly losing customer money related to the FSB.
Demands to hand over crypto assets to the FSB
The BBC recorded audio recordings of telephone conversations from Anton Nemkin – former FSB employee with Aleksey Bilyuchenko – co-founder of BTC-e and Konstantin Malofeyev, who deliberately was behind the WEX sale – an exiled company of BTC-e is in trouble.
Konstantin Malofeev discusses the importance of putting Wex under FSB control. Malofeev is a Russian billionaire who is currently under U.S. sanctions for funding pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine, the so-called Donetsk National Republic.
Following phone calls in April 2018, Wex founder Alexey Bilyuchenko said he was transferred to a part of the FSB in Moscow, where some plainclothes officers asked him about the organization of WEX. There, he handed out flash disks with details on how to access a customer’s online wallet, which stores about $ 450 million in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
The next day, Anton allegedly requested that Bilyuchenko transfer all the cryptocurrencies stored in the WEX wallet, saying that the property would be given to the FSB fund of Russia. At that time, the wallet contained $ 450 million in cryptocurrency belonging to exchange customers.
Bilyuchenko finally agreed to transfer the money. Data from Blockchain.com and Explorer.Litecoin.net indicate that 30,000 BTC and 700,000 Litecoin (LTC) were transferred from the aforementioned wallets – equivalent to $ 350 million at the time.
Bitcoin prices rose rapidly on the exchange, before customer withdrawals froze three months later. The exchange was eventually closed at the end of 2018.
Dmitri Vasilyev – the former CEO of WEX, was arrested in Italy in July. In April 2019, because of allegedly defrauding a local investor for $ 20,000 through the exchange, Vasilyev became the subject of a police investigation crime in the city of Almaty of Kazakhstan.
The Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) identified civil penalties against BTC-e and Vinnik last year, who faced fines of more than $ 88 million and $ 12 million respectively.
The filing clearly stated that BTC-e and Vinnik did not attempt to register with FinCEN, carry out Anti-money Laundering activities or report suspicious activity in general.