US authorities have seized the domain of BTC-e – one of the largest bitcoin exchange which was recently shuttered – following the arrest of the exchange’s alleged operator Alexander Vinnik.
The above notice was put up on the domain after it was seized by US authorities confirming that the recent suspension of operations by BTC-e were a direct result of the actions by law enforcement authorities. The seizure of the domain follows the arrest of Vinnik who is said to an operator of the Bitcoin exchange and has been accused of laundering a whopping $4 billion through BTC-e.
Vinnik has been called a thief by Mark Karpeles, the former CEO of MT Gox, because it is said that of the $4 billion Vinnik laundered, 300,000 Bitcoin belonged to MT Gox. Reports in newspapers in Greece claim that Vinnik has denied the charges.
Vinnik is believed to have started his operations in 2011 and over the years he is said to have laundered an estimated $4 billion “through a bitcoin platform”. This bitcoin platform is believed to be BTC-e as it began operating around the same time as Vinnik’s criminal organization is said to have emerged.
There is not concrete evidence of link between BTC-e and Vinnik, but the general reputation of BTC-e has been a shady one. However, it managed to withstand many hacking attempts thereby gaining the trust of many.
Chances are we may soon hear from authorities about who Vinnik really is and whether there is a link between him and BTC-e and if in reality he is the founder of BTC-e.
In a related development, BTC-e has been fined by FinCEN $110 million.
Further, $110 million worth of Bitcoins are on the move. US authorities haven’t issued a statement regarding the funds and so isn’t any indication on who currently in possession of the bitcoins and other assets including half a million 500,000 eth.