BBC Report: Russian Intelligence Agency, FSB, Steals $450 Million In Bitcoin From WEX Exchange
Russian crypto exchange Wex collapsed in 2018 with over $450 million worth of Bitcoin under its custody which was lost. A recent investigation led by the BBC has found a Russian Federal connection in the disappearance of those funds.
The investigation found that one of the co-owners of the exchange was forced to hand over sensitive private information of the user's digital wallet where the funds were saved. The report claimed that the Russian federal agency used the extorted information in stealing all of the users' funds from the exchange.
The claims are startling but Wex as a crypto exchange itself was marred in controversy as it was founded in 2017 as a successor of infamous BTC-e platform, which was shut by the FBI on the claims that the platform was involved in money laundering. The authorities claimed that the exchange was laundered $4 billion around the world.
In 2018 Wex user wallets were frozen out of the blue without any prior notice, and the only way users could liquidate their funds was with a 90% loss. It was later found out that more than $400 million worth of cryptocurrencies has disappeared from the exchange.
BTC-e and Its History of Wrongdoings
BTC-e was founded in 2011 and soon became one of the largest crypto exchange in Russia. Later it became a gateway for money launching for high profile names, so much so that it also had the US election connection, where the Russian cyber group Fancy Bear who was behind the hacking of
the U.S. Democratic Party in the run-up to 2016 Presidential election was found to be using the service of BTC-e.
Not only that even Wex the successor of the exchange has been known to have their connections with top military figures from Russia-backed Donetsk People’s Republic.
Wex has been Known for its High up Military Connections
BBC investigation also found several audio recordings where a pro-Kremlin Russian billionaire Konstantin Malofeev who is under U.S. sanctions for providing monetary aid to Moscow-backed forces in Eastern Ukraine, was heard talking about bringing Wex under FSB.
The investigation found that in April 2018 Wex founder Alexey Bilyuchenko was taken to the FSB office were handed over disk files and information of private digital wallets. Bilyuchenko told BBC that three months after handing over the details to the federal agency, users' accounts were frozen. He also claimed that the FSB told him all the funds would go to the FSB Russia Fund.