BTC-e Bitcoin Exchange Executive Could Shake Up US Mueller Case
Cryptocurrencies have been linked to several major benefits for people and economies all over the world. The blockchain technology backing Bitcoin in particular has been an invaluable asset for companies, governments, and peoples who want to escape the harsh realities of the financial status quo.
However, for all the good the digital asset has done, the anonymous and decentralized cryptocurrency has also been a favorite tool of criminals looking to hide their ill-gotten gains.
Bitcoin has been in the news on several occasions for this exact reason. In the beginning days of the currency, its use as the primary method of payment on illicit darknet markets led to investigations by governments and legal organizations all over the world. But for financial elites, the primary illegal purpose of Bitcoin isn’t a product of its use in the drug and weapons trade. Instead, a growing number of rich Americans have used Bitcoin as a tool to help launder money and conceal the source of funds for a variety of different business ventures.
In perhaps the most significant of stories involving the use of cryptocurrency to conceal funds and launder fiat cash, sources say that a Russian arrested for running a money laundering business from his cryptocurrency exchange website might be linked to the Mueller investigation, a United States criminal investigation into the Russian ties of Robert Mueller, the former lawyer of current President Donald Trump.
The Mueller Investigation
Referred to as a “witch hunt” by the current administration, the criminal investigation into Robert Mueller seeks to explore the accusation that the lawyer was involved in money laundering, financial crimes, and a potential involvement with Russia during the infamous 2016 campaign. The dramatic investigation is one of extreme significance for the United States, mainly because the details of the case could possibly implicate the sitting President in a litany of felonies.
The core of the criminal charges being brought against the former attorney are financial in nature, with several of the people involved on his team having been charged with crimes. So far, though, only Paul Manafort has been found guilty by a jury of his peers, whereas Mueller himself has made several deals with authorities, potentially providing significant information on others who were involved in the murky conspiracy.
Vinnik And Bitcoin Laundering
In 2017, Russian citizen and businessman Alexander Vinnik was arrested and detained within a Grecian prison after charges were levied by prosecutors in the United States that he had been involved in illegal transfers of funds, using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, to a hacker group in Russia known as “Fancy Bear.”
Within the enigmatic military-based hacking group, several members have been indicted officially by the United States government in connection to the ongoing investigation into Robert Mueller and the Russian interference in the election of 2016.
A Struggle For Indictment
Currently, three separate countries are trying to extradite the Russian national for trial and questioning in their country. France and the United States are interested in criminal prosecution directly, while experts speculate that Russia is looking to keep Vinnik within their country in order to prevent him from exposing Russian secrets to the likes of the U.S. and France.
Vinnik has yet to speak any truth regarding the investigation, still arguing that he knows nothing about the alleged money laundering operation. But authorities involved in the investigation reiterate that there is a clear link between the money laundering operation, the Bitcoin exchange run by Vinnik, and the Fancy Bear hacking group implicated in the Russian interference on the 2016 election in the U.S.