One of the oldest Bitcoin exchanges, BTC-e, has suspended its operations claiming that the service was under maintenance and that the expected restoration time is 5-10 days.
BTC-e hasn’t provided any concrete explanation about why the service has been put into maintenance. The exchange remains down, with its front page simply stating “site is under maintenance.”
In one of the tweets, BTC-e said that the service has been taken offline due to technical work in the btc-e data center. Subsequently it said that there was unplanned maintenance and their engineers are looking into the issue. BTC-e then tweeted that the technical work is nearing completion. And in its latest update it said:
“At the moment, work is underway to restore the service. Approximate terms from 5 to 10 days. Thank you for understanding #btce”
While BTC-e went down, as many as 66,163 bitcoins started moving. The Bitcoins are beig split through numerous blockchain addresses – a move that indicates towards steps to obfuscate movement. One of the addresses as of now holds around 35,000.
Around the same time Reuters reported that a certain Alexander Vinnik has been arrested under the suspicion of “laundering at least $4 billion of criminal funds by switching them into the digital currency bitcoin.” The 38-year old Russian was arrested in Greece at the request of US Authorities who hope to extradite him to America.
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.