BTC-e ‘Controller’ Charged by US Authorities

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  • Aliaksandr Klimenka, a Belarusian and Cypriot national, was recently charged for his role in the shuttered criminal enterprise BTC-e
  • Klimenka allegedly controlled BTC-e with Alexander Vinnik, who was arrested in 2017
  • Klimenka is also accused of overseeing illicit activities through Soft-FX, a technology services company, and FX Open, a financial company.

Aliaksandr Klimenka, a Belarusian and Cypriot national was last week charged with his links to criminal enterprise BTC-e, which was shuttered in 2017. Klimenka was charged with conspiracy to launder money and operating an unlicensed money services business between 2011 and July 2017 thanks to his alleged position as controller of BTC-e along with Alexander Vinnik and others. Klimenka was also accused of controlling Soft-FX, a technology services company, and FX Open, a financial company that was involved in similarly illicit activities.

BTC-e Continues to Draw Attention

BTC-e is known to have played a significant role in cybercrime and online money laundering in the early 2001s, providing users with a platform for high-anonymity bitcoin trading. The exchange developed a customer base heavily involved in criminal activities, facilitating transactions for cybercriminals, and, through Vinnik, handled much of the bitcoin stolen from MtGox over two and a half years.

Vinnik himself has been in US custody since August 2022, and it is unknown whether the identification of Klimenka is part of a plea deal being negotiated by the Russian.

BTC-e was also the exchange of choice for operators of other various illicit activities, including computer intrusions, hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corruption, and narcotics distribution rings. The scheme’s alleged primary operational hub was BTC-e’s servers, maintained in the United States, leased and managed by Klimenka and Soft-FX.

Klimenka Faces 25 Years in Prison

Many of the charges leveled at Klimenka are similar to those leveled at Vinnik, including conducting significant business in the United States and operating without registering as a money services business with the US Department of Treasury. The indictment claims that the exchange lacked anti-money laundering processes, appropriate “know your customer” (KYC) verification systems, and an anti-money laundering program mandated by federal law.

Klimenka was apprehended in Latvia on December 21, 2023, at the request of US authorities and had his initial appearance in San Francisco recently. He faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison if convicted.