- The U.S. Justice Department has unsealed charges against Russian nationals Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner, accusing them of hacking the cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox and operating the illicit cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e.
- The charges highlight the U.S. government’s commitment to tackling cybercrime and ensuring the integrity of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
In a significant development in the world of cryptocurrency, the U.S. Justice Department has unsealed charges against two Russian nationals, Alexey Bilyuchenko, 43, and Aleksandr Verner, 29. The charges relate to the 2011 hack of the cryptocurrency exchange Mt. Gox and the operation of the illicit cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e.
The court documents reveal that Bilyuchenko and Verner are accused of conspiring to launder approximately 647,000 bitcoins, which were stolen from Mt. Gox. Bilyuchenko is also charged with conspiring with Alexander Vinnik to operate BTC-e from 2011 to 2017.
The Justice Department’s actions underscore its commitment to bringing to justice those who misuse the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division stated, “These indictments highlight the department’s unwavering commitment to bring to justice bad actors in the cryptocurrency ecosystem and prevent the abuse of the financial system.”
The charges allege that Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators gained unauthorized access to Mt. Gox’s server in 2011, leading to the theft of a significant amount of cryptocurrency and contributing to the exchange’s ultimate insolvency. The stolen bitcoins were laundered through bitcoin addresses associated with accounts controlled by Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators at two other online bitcoin exchanges.
In addition to the charges related to the Mt. Gox hack, Bilyuchenko is also accused of working with Vinnik and others to operate the BTC-e exchange from 2011 until it was shut down by law enforcement in 2017. During that time, BTC-e was one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges and was a primary conduit for cybercriminals around the world to transfer, launder, and store the criminal proceeds of their illegal activities.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit is handling the case. The FBI and IRS-CI are investigating the case, and SDNY Assistant U.S. Attorney Olga I. Zverovich is prosecuting the case.
The charges against Bilyuchenko and Verner underscore the U.S. government’s commitment to tackling cybercrime and ensuring the integrity of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. The case serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with cryptocurrency and the need for robust security measures in the sector.