New Zealand Police Seize $90M Linked to Alleged BTC-e Exchange Operator

New Zealand Police Seize $90M Linked to Alleged BTC-e Exchange Operator

Alexander Vinnik being escorted to the Supreme Court in Greece in 2017 (Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com)

New Zealand police have seized NZ$140 million (US$90 million) in bank funds linked to Alexander Vinnik, a Russian alleged to have been the controller of the now-defunct BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange.

The seizure of funds, which were controlled by a New Zealand-registered company, is said to be the largest in the country’s history by federal police. The force’s Asset Recovery Unit moved to freeze the funds amid a global investigation into the activities of the exchange and its operators, by news source NZ Herald.

U.S. prosecutors have alleged that Vinnik controlled BTC-e, a exchange used to launder billions of dollars for criminal enterprises. Vinnik, who has been denying the charges for , was arrested based on extradition orders from the U.S. while on holiday with family in Greece in 2017.

New Zealand police allege the exchange had no anti-money laundering (AML) controls in place, resulting in criminals laundering crime-related proceeds through the platform.

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