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New Zealand freezes $90 million connected to accused bitcoin...

New Zealand freezes $90 million connected to accused bitcoin launderer Alexander Vinnik

The New Zealand Police announced on Monday that it had taken control of the funds, equivalent to $140 million in New Zealand dollarsdollars ($90 million USSD), belonging to Alexander Vinnik, the alleged operator of BTC-e, a currency trading platform shuttered by the U.S. government in 2017.

Vinnik is currently incarcerated in France, where hewas extradited in 2018 after Greek law enforcement arrested him on a U.S. arrest warrant in 2017.

Vinnik is accused of laundering $4 billion in bitcoin, with separate charges in the U.S. and France. Russian authorities have accused Vinnik offraud totaling the equivalent of $11,000, and his extradition to France came only after a long standoff between American, French and Russian authorities over which country should have custody.

He allegedly controlled a company registered in New Zealand called the Canton Business Corporation.

Advertisers frequently marketed BTC-e on Silk Road, a pioneering dark web forum where members sold narcotics and other illicit materials.

U.S. prosecutors also have alleged that BTC-e was used to hide funds stolen via the CryptoWall ransomware. It also served as a place where scammers who stole from the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange could launder their proceeds, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Vinnik faces 55 years in prison if he is tried and convicted on all counts.

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