$90 Million Seized In Fraud Case Tied To Btc

A Russian computer programmer involved in the collapse of a big cryptocurrency exchange says he was tricked inkhổng lồ handing over its entire assets lớn fraudsters posing as FSB agents, according lớn documents obtained by Đài truyền hình hozo.vn Russian.

Alexei Bilyuchenko was a key player in Wex, which stopped trading in 2018, leaving customers unable to access investments totalling nearly half a billion US dollars.

Đài truyền hình hozo.vn Russian has spent months investigating the murky world of Russian cryptocurrency trading, trying khổng lồ find out what happened khổng lồ the money.

It's a story worthy of the Đài truyền hình hozo.vn TV drama McMafia, involving an unlikely cast of characters from computer geeks & FBI agents, to lớn a billionaire oligarch with ties lớn the war in Ukraine.

The story begins in the Russian city of Novosibirsk in August 2017 where Alexei Bilyuchenko, a former IT manager for a furniture shop chain, was lying low having narrowly escaped arrest on holiday in Greece.

Six years earlier he và business partner Alexander Vinnik, an electronic cash transfer speciamenu, had met online & made a life-changing decision lớn get involved in cryptocurrency trading.

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Described by friends as shy men who preferred computers khổng lồ people, Alexander Vinnik & Alexei Bilyuchenko mix up an exchange called BTC-e which was to lớn become notorious.

Like similar exchanges around the world, BTC-e offered investors the chance lớn use real money khổng lồ buy virtual currencies.

Unlượt thích other exchanges in Europe và the US, BTC-e did not ask customers for their ID, meaning that as well as appealing to lớn legitimate investors, it also offered a potential way for organised criminals lớn launder money.


Customers flocked to invest in BTC-e and, according lớn Global Witness, by năm 2016 it had become the third largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

The two partners communicated online and they only met in person in 2014 when their daily bitcoin trading reached $2m. By the time it hit $10m in năm 2016 they held a family các buổi tiệc nhỏ in Moscow.

In July 2017 they went on holiday lớn Greece, unaware US federal agents investigating international money laundering were on their trail.


The FBI suspected BTC-e was involved in hiding funds stolen from the haông chồng of another bitcoin exchange, Mt Gox. Cybercrime experts also thought it was being used by the mysterious Russian hacking group Fancy Bears.

A warrant was issued for Alexander Vinnik's arrest & Greek police detained hlặng on the beach, in front of his wife và children.

His mother called Alexei Bilyuchenko, who was in a different resort. In a panic, he smashed his máy tính, threw it into lớn the sea và jumped on the next flight to Moscow.

Bachồng trang chính in Novosibirsk, Mr Bilyuchenko decided lớn try to lớn recoup his losses by setting up another exchange called Wex (World Exchange Services).

The FBI had seized BTC-e's trang web but he still had the back-up servers and, via Wex, he was able to lớn return investments to lớn some BTC-e clients.

At this stage, according to lớn the version of events he later told police, & which has been shared with the hozo.vn, Alexei Bilyuchenko decided he needed a backer khổng lồ offer some protection.

He says he was introduced to lớn Konstantin Malofeyev, a Moscow-based billionaire, with svào ties lớn both the Kremlin & the Russian Orthodox Church.


Mr Malofeyev, who made his fortune in investment banking, is currently under US & EU sanctions for alleged liên kết to rebel fighters in Eastern Ukraine.

In his police statements Alexei Bilyuchenko says he was invited khổng lồ Moscow several times lớn meet Mr Malofeyev in his offices in a high-end shopping plaza.

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The topic of how much money Wex was generating allegedly figured large in their conversations, as did the question of what might have happened to lớn the funds held by BTC-e until the FBI swooped.

"For several months Malofeyev demanded I show hyên the Wex cryptocurrency balances," Mr Bilyuchencko told police.

Angry clients began demanding their money baông chồng và one filed a complaint with police in Russia's Chuvashiya region.

He said he had actually lost control of Wex in the spring of 2018, several months before it officially collapsed.

He said that at a meeting in Konstantin Malofeyev's Moscow office he had been introduced lớn some men he understood were agents from the security service, the FSB.

They took him to a building used by the FSB, not far from the Bolshoi Theatre. They asked hyên ổn about Wex & then took hyên ổn to lớn the luxury Lotte khách sạn near the Russian foreign ministry where he says he remained under guard all night.

According khổng lồ Mr Bilyuchenko, the next morning he was taken back to lớn Mr Malofeyev's office, where it was strongly suggested he should move the funds held by Wex inlớn "an FSB fund", which he agreed to lớn, &, according to lớn him, on his next visit lớn Moscow he transferred everything as requested.

Baông xã trang chủ in Novosibirsk, it began to lớn dawn on hyên, he says. He had, he claims, been the victyên of a scam và, rather than transferring the money inlớn state coffers, he had actually been tricked inkhổng lồ handing it over khổng lồ Mr Malofeyev's associates.

Since telling his story khổng lồ the police Mr Bilyuchenko has gone into hiding. Private security guards now protect his trang chủ và he has declined khổng lồ speak to the Đài truyền hình hozo.vn or anyone else about Wex.

Alexander Terentiev, who heads a chiến dịch group for defrauded investors, told the Đài truyền hình hozo.vn he was not convinced. But others seem less sceptical.

Since the kết thúc of November, courts, public buildings, metro stations và shopping centres in Moscow và St Petersburg have been paralysed by almost daily hoax bomb threats.

According to reports in Russian truyền thông media, several of the emailed warnings have included references khổng lồ Wex's missing millions & to lớn Mr Malofeyev.

A statement issued via Mr Malofeyev's Tsargrad TV channel described the bomb threats as part of "a campaign of discreditation" against hyên ổn.

"Neither Konstantin Malofeyev nor his companies have sầu anything lớn vì chưng with the theft of Bitcoins, the Wex exchange, or its management," it said.

Mr Malofeyev has declined lớn speak to the hozo.vn about the case và the FSB has not responded lớn the hozo.vn's request for comment.

Meanwhile, in Greece, two years after his dramatic arrest on the beach, Alexei Bilyuchenko's former business partner Alexander Vinnik is still in jail.

The US, Russia & France are all seeking his extradition. He has not seen his wife, now suffering from a brain tumour, for two years,

His lawyer Timofei Musatov told the hozo.vn the former bitcoin multi-millionaire had been on a long hunger strike & was now a shadow of his former self.

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