The legal team of convicted Bitcoin launderer Alexander Vinnik have lodged an appeal against his 5 year prison sentence which he is now serving in a French prison.
According to Russian publication Kommersant, Vinnik’s lawyers have appealed his five year sentence which was handed down on December 8 by the Paris Criminal Court. Vinnik was sentenced to five years in prison, charged a €100,000 and had property confiscated – after being found guilty of money laundering.
Not guilty of using malware, extortion
Vinnik’s run in with the law stems back to 2017 where he was arrested in Greece at the request of Interpol before being extradited to France in January 2020. He faced seperate charges of alleged use of malware to facilitate extortion as well as charges of money laundering.
Prosecutors tried to charge Vinnik for the use of malware to extort victims, alleging that he had used the Locky virus malware that affected over 200 companies, institutions and individuals in France during a two year period from 2016 onwards.
The Paris court did not find Vinnik guilty of this first charge, citing a lack of evidence from the prosecution that Vinnik had been involved in the creation or distribution of the Locky virus.
Vinnik’s involvement with BTC-e
While the court brushed aside the first charge, Vinnik was convicted of money laundering through his association with the now-defunct BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange.
Investigators believe that Vinnik was one of the creators of the exchange which is believed to have facilitated money laundering and illegal operations including ransom payments and bribery.
During his trial in October, Vinnik pleaded not guilty to all the counts put against him. He admitted that he’d worked for the exchange as a trader but had no knowledge of the illegal operations and did not knowingly contravene any laws.
Multiple charges in different countries – faces extradition
While Vinnik claims his innocence, he faces a multitude of charges in different countries. As reported by Cointelegraph, Vinnik faces extradition to both American and Russia.
BTC-e and Vinnik face a $100mln civil complaint in the US, while Vinnik alone faces Vinnik faces 17 counts of money laundering and two counts of engaging in unlawful monetary transactions in America.
Vinnik’s lawyer Frederic Belo, a member of the Paris Bar Association, says that his client should only face another year and a half behind bars given his three and half year pre-trial detention.