Police of New Zealand froze NZD140 Million ($90 Million) worth of assets, property of Alexander Vinnik, owner of Canton Business Corporation, who was also allegedly operated the BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange. The case is part of other investigations of money laundering and cybercrimes.
The Largest Restrain Of Funds In New Zealand’s’s Crime History
In a recent report by the police, investigators claim that the operation was among the biggest in the country and that this is the largest restrain of funds ever to come across.
The announcement confirmed that BTC-e, which operated from the United States, allegedly had no anti-money laundering control or policies. According to the police, this resulted in a variety of cybercrimes, including laundering proceeds, computer hacking, ransomware attacks, theft, fraud, corruption, and drug crime.
The official accusation against Vinnik was brought in 2017 by San Francisco prosecutors, stating he was running the cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e as an operation that allegedly helped criminals launder billions of dollars for their networks.
He was arrested on those allegations in Greece in 2017 and extradited to France, where he remains in custody. Back then, France, Russia, and the U.S. fought over which country should get to extradite him so he will face charges.
In a post from January 2020, Bloomberg explained that following the allegations, his lawyers said Vinnik was being prosecuted because he’s a blockchain genius and is seen as a threat to the international banking system”.
Assembling International Forces Against Cyber Criminals
During the investigation, police in New Zealand have included the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. Inspectors are confident that the Vinnik case demonstrates that New Zealand is hardly a safe haven for illicit proceeds, which have been generated for crime in other parts of the globe.
“These funds are likely to reflect the profit gained from the victimisation of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people globally as a result of cyber crime and organised crime,”, said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
He also added that the restraining order shows that New Zealand’s police are actively investigating money-laundering matters in close relations with their international partners.
Featured image courtesy of Security Affairs