On November 15th, a survey released by the BBC Russia branch showed that the cryptocurrency exchanged by the now closed cryptocurrency exchange WEX (formerly BTC-e, later renamed WEX) may have been transferred. To a fund of the Russian intelligence agency FSB (Federal Security Agency).
The BBC's recent survey of the BTC-e exchange revealed some new details that allegedly linked the lost client funds to the FSB. In this case, co-founder Alexander Vinnik was accused of committing fraud and money laundering for six years, involving Bitcoin worth up to $4 billion.
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The audio file obtained by the BBC shows that a person named Anton has a connection with BTC-e co-founders Aleksey Bilyuchenko and Konstantin Malofeyev. It is speculated that this person may be former FSB official Anton Nemkin.
At a business meeting in 2018, Anton allegedly asked Bilyuchenko to hand him a cold wallet with WEX encryption assets. After handing over the assets, Bilyuchenko was sent to a department in the FSB in Moscow, where several plainclothes police officers asked him about the operation of WEX.
The next day, Anton asked Bilyuchenko to hand over all the cryptocurrencies in the WEX wallet and claimed that the assets would be handed over to the “Russian Federal Security Agency Fund”. At the time, these wallets had $450 million in cryptocurrencies, some of which were customers of the exchange.
Bilyuchenko eventually agreed to transfer the above amount. Data from Blockchain.com and Explorer.Litecoin.net show that 30,000 bitcoins and 700,000 Litecoin were transferred from the above wallet – at the time equivalent to $350 million.
In July of this year, former WEX CEO Dmitri Vasilyev was arrested in Italy. In April 2019, Vasilyev became the criminal investigator of the Almaty Police Department in Kazakhstan, suspected of defrauding a local investor of $20,000 through the WEX exchange.
In the same month, the US prosecutor filed a lawsuit against BTC-e and Vinnik. According to relevant documents, the Financial Crimes Execution Network (FinCEN) imposed a fine of $88 million and $12 million on BTC-e and Vinnik last year.
The document clearly states that BTC-e and Vinnik are not registered with FinCEN and that no anti-money laundering measures have been implemented or suspicious activities have been reported.