New Zealand police have frozen $140 million from a New Zealand company linked to Russian bitcoin launderer accused Alexander Vinnik. The seize is the largest restraint of funds in New Zealand police history. According to the New Zealand Herald report, the funds were controlled by a New Zealand registered company and has been frozen as part of a global investigation into a Bitcoin exchange run by Alexander Vinnik who stands accused of laundering billions of dollars using crypto for criminal syndicates.
New Zealand police worked closely with the US IRS.
The New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said that the New Zealand Police had worked closely with the Internal Revenue Service of the United States to address this very serious offending. The police commissioner further noted that these funds are likely to reflect the profit gained from the victimization of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people globally as a result of cyber-crime and organized crime. Alexander Vinnik was the operator of now-defunct crypto exchange BTC-e that facilitated billions of dollars.
Alexander Vinnik is currently in custody in France.
Alleged bitcoin launderer Alexander Vinnik was arrested in July 2017 in Greece while he was on a vocation. He was arrested on the request of US authorities. Currently, Vinnik stands accused of laundering four to nine billion US dollars through a crypto exchange called BTC-e that he operated. He is also wanted in France and Russia for money laundering and other crimes. On December 19, 2019, Greek authorities delivered a decision to extradite him to France. He is currently in custody in France. However, his lawyer fought for his extradition to Russia, where he faces less severe criminal charges. Vinnik’s lawyer has also claimed that he has been subjected to human right violations as the government is trying to scare and terrorize him.