The U.S. Department of Justice has charged two Russian nationals with “conspiring to launder approximately 647,000 bitcoins” they acquired from hacking the now-defunct Japanese bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, according to a statement.
In the statement, the DOJ alleges that Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner hacked Mt. Gox and then tried to launder the stolen funds.
“Starting in 2011, Bilyuchenko and Verner stole a massive amount of cryptocurrency from Mt. Gox, contributing to the exchange’s ultimate insolvency,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said in a statement. “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.”
The DOJ also charged Bilyuchenko for “conspiring” with Alexander Vinnik to operate the BTC-e exchange from 2011 to 2017. The exchange was shut down by U.S. authorities in 2017. Vinnik was extradited to the U.S. last year in connection with the U.S. investigation into BTC-e.
“For years, Bilyuchenko and his co-conspirators allegedly operated a digital currency exchange that enabled criminals around the world – including computer hackers, ransomware actors, narcotics rings, and corrupt public officials – to launder billions of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey in the DOJ’s statement.
If calculated at current exchange rates, the 647,000 bitcoin would be valued at more than $17 billion.
© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.