On appeal in France for money laundering extortions via cryptocurrency, Russian computer scientist Alexandre Vinnik was sentenced by the Paris Court of Appeal to five years in prison for money laundering but released from accusations of cyberattacks.
Claimed by the United States, which suspects him of having laundered billions of dollars via the BTC-e platform and Russia, which accuses him of several offenses, the Russian computer scientist Alexandre Vinnik was released on June 24 on appeal for cyber attacks in bitcoin but sentenced to five years in prison for laundering extorted funds. The court confirming the judgment pronounced at first instance.
In December 2020, the criminal court surprised by relaxing 13 of the 14 offenses for which he was tried.
Sentenced to 5 years in prison for laundering extorted funds
The prosecution – which had appealed – had demanded 10 years in prison against this “pioneer” of cyberattacks, “conductor” of Locky ransomware.
On appeal, however, the Advocate General himself requested confirmation of the judgment pronounced at first instance, considering that there was no “proof” of the responsibility of Alexandre Vinnik in setting up the ransomware.
“There is nothing to retain” its responsibility, “neither in the design, nor in the distribution” of the ransomware, nor in the ransom demands, the court said in its decision.
This malware encrypted data on computer systems, making it inaccessible unless you paid a cryptocurrency ransom to obtain a decryption key. Between 2016 and 2018, it caused around 5,700 victims worldwide (200 in France) and would have caused damage estimated in 2018 at nearly 135 million euros.
Alexandre Vinnik will appeal on points of law
Alexandre Vinnik has always maintained that he had “nothing to do” with the ransomware and described himself as “a simple freelance operator” for the BTC-e platform, a major place of money laundering, on which the ransoms were. paid.
The court’s decision “is a disappointment,” admitted Alexandre Vinnik’s lawyer, Me Frédéric Bélot, announcing an appeal in cassation.
Arrested on the basis of an American arrest warrant on a beach during a family vacation in Greece in 2017, he found himself at the heart of a diplomatic standoff between France, the United States and Russia . Greece had finally handed him over to France, but he remains claimed by the United States, which has pronounced 21 charges against him and hope to recover him once the French procedure is over.
Alexandre Vinnik, he would prefer to be extradited to Russia, where he is also claimed for a minor swindle.