If less scrupulous crypto exchange owners thought they could avoid the reach of US law by being located in foreign countries, they should start getting worried – a Romanian exchange owner is to be extradited to the US on charges of using his exchange to launder money. Vlad Nistor, founder of CoinFlux exchange, had been sought on Bitcoin laundering charges, and is now in custody ready to be flown back to the US to face trial.
Money Laundering Allegations
Nistor was arrested last month by Romanian police and Secret Service agents in Cluj, where the business is based. He is accused of knowingly receiving Bitcoin obtained through criminal means and selling it for Romanian leu, the national currency. His involvement was suspected but was, in the eyes of the US, confirmed when other Romanians based in the US who had links to Nistor were monitored and found to be conducting the fraudulent activity.
Nistor’s lawyer, Anatol Pânzaru, has claimed that Nistor was not aware the Bitcoin had been illegally obtained and that the terms of the charge do not constitute the threshold for extradition. After appeals, the High Court of Cassation and Justice has upheld the court’s decision to extradite, meaning Nistor will soon be on a plane to the US.
Not the First
Nistor is not be the first exchange owner to undergo this treatment, with Alexander Vinnik, owner of the now-closed BTC-e exchange, having been extradited from Greece to France last year for the same reasons. Vinnik was alleged to have laundered almost $4 billion in Bitcoin over six years. In December, a pair of Iranians were indicted for their part in the alleged laundering of money gained from the WannaCry malware attack, although one has since denied he knew anything about where the funds came from.
With the amount of illegal activity such as wash trading allegedly going on inside crypto exchanges, it cannot be long before more cases such as Nistor’s come to light and exchange owners realize that borders mean nothing when it comes to financial crimes.