New Zealand police seize $90 million from alleged BTC-e operator Alexander Vinnik

New Zealand police have seized NZ$ 140 million (~US$90 million) from Alexander Vinnik, the alleged operator of the now-defunct crypto exchange BTC-e, and his company Canton Business Corporation (the managing shell company of BTC-e).

The police said it is the largest seizure in its history. Vinnik was arrested on money laundering allegations in Greece in 2017, and earlier this year was extradited to France, where he remains in custody.

It is alleged that Vinnik operated BTC-e without anti-money laundering controls and policies, which resulted in criminals laundering proceeds derived from illegal activities via the exchange.

New Zealand police commissioner Andrew Coster said the seized 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 cyber-crime and organised crime."

Coster added that the police worked closely with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to address this "very serious offending."

The police plan to file an application to the High Court seeking forfeiture of the seized funds. It is not clear whether the funds are in the form of fiat or cryptocurrency. When reached, the police declined to comment to The Block.

The case is still ongoing. Once it is completed in France, Vinnik is said to extradite to Greece, then the U.S. and later to his native Russia.