In a statement issued on Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed that two Russian individuals have been accused of infiltrating a cryptocurrency exchange and running an unlawful exchange. Reportedly, the pair gained unauthorized access to Mt Gox’s servers from 2011 to 2014 and purportedly pilfered 647,000 bitcoins from the now-dissolved exchange.
Russian Duo Accused of Orchestrating Mt Gox Heist and Operating Underground Crypto Exchange
The U.S. government has charged two Russians for breaching Mt Gox and managing the former crypto exchange BTC-e. The defendants, Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner, are believed by authorities to have collaborated with Alexander Vinnik in running BTC-e.
As stated in the indictment, “As alleged in the indictments, starting in 2011, Bilyuchenko and Verner stole a massive amount of cryptocurrency from Mt Gox, contributing to the exchange’s ultimate insolvency. 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,” remarked Kenneth Polite Jr., the assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
A 2016 indictment was unveiled alongside the press release, revealing more details about the relationship between Mt Gox and BTC-e. The indictment alleges that “Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators” initially accessed Mt Gox in September 2011 and managed to siphon funds from its wallets. “From September 2011 through at least May 2014, Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators allegedly caused the theft of at least approximately 647,000 bitcoins from Mt Gox,” asserts the DOJ.
BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik, and Russian nationals have all been implicated in hypotheses surrounding Mt Gox’s demise long ago. In 2019, reports stated that Russian attorney Alexander Zheleznikov from ZP Legal alleged his firm was aware of who the Russian nationals were and tied Mt Gox to the operators of BTC-e. In their latest discovery, the DOJ claims that the pair worked with an unnamed bitcoin brokerage service, referring to it as the “New York Bitcoin Broker” in the indictment.
A fabricated advertising agreement was allegedly concocted between Bilyuchenko, Verner, and the New York Bitcoin Broker to camouflage and liquidate bitcoins taken from Mt Gox. “Bilyuchenko and Verner supposedly made regular requests to the owner and operator of the New York Bitcoin Broker to transfer large sums into various offshore bank accounts, including those under the names of shell corporations managed by Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators,” details the DOJ’s charges and unveiled court indictment.
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