Today, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) brought charges against two Russian nationals, Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner, for their alleged involvement in the 2011 cyberattack on Mt. Gox, a now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange that was among the world’s largest. The Southern District of New York (SDNY) accuses the duo of laundering around 647,000 bitcoins linked to the digital heist.
Furthermore, Bilyuchenko faces additional charges in the Northern District of California (NDCA) for his role in operating the notorious Russian cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e.
The charges laid by the SDNY include conspiracy to commit money laundering, which could see each defendant serving a maximum of 20 years. Bilyuchenko, on the other hand, could face up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of the NDCA’s charges, which include conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money services business.
The DOJ asserts that Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their associates gained access to Mt. Gox’s crypto wallet servers around September 2011. They allegedly transferred customers’ bitcoins to their accounts after penetrating the servers, and they are accused of laundering the stolen bitcoins through accounts on other crypto exchanges under their control.
The DOJ further alleges that the co-conspirators entered into a sham “advertising contract” with a New York-based bitcoin brokerage service, which they utilized to request regular transfers to “various offshore bank accounts, including in the names of shell corporations” controlled by Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their accomplices. From March 2012 to April 2013, the group reportedly moved over $6.6 million.
US Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. said, “This announcement is a significant milestone in two major cryptocurrency investigations.” He added that, “As alleged, starting in 2011, Bilyuchenko and Verner stole a significant amount of cryptocurrency from Mt. Gox, leading to the exchange’s ultimate downfall. With the proceeds from Mt. Gox, Bilyuchenko allegedly helped establish the infamous BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, which laundered money for cybercriminals globally. These indictments underscore our department’s firm commitment to holding wrongdoers in the cryptocurrency ecosystem accountable and preventing the financial system’s exploitation.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Russian Nationals Charged in Mt. Gox Hack
Who are the Russian nationals charged by the US Department of Justice?
Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner are the Russian nationals charged by the US Department of Justice for crimes related to the 2011 hacking of Mt. Gox, a now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange.
What charges do Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner face?
Both individuals are charged in the Southern District of New York (SDNY) with conspiracy to commit money laundering, related to laundering about 647,000 bitcoins connected to the heist. Additionally, Bilyuchenko is charged in the Northern District of California (NDCA) for running the infamous Russian crypto exchange BTC-e.
What is the maximum sentence that Bilyuchenko and Verner could face?
The SDNY charges carry a maximum sentencing of 20 years for each defendant, while Bilyuchenko faces a maximum of 25 years in prison in the NDCA indictment.
What exactly did Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators allegedly do?
They allegedly infiltrated the servers storing Mt. Gox’s crypto wallets in 2011, initiating the transfer of customers’ bitcoins to accounts they controlled. Additionally, they are accused of laundering the stolen bitcoins to accounts on other crypto exchanges controlled by the group. They are also alleged to have transferred over $6.6 million from March 2012 to April 2013 through a fraudulent “advertising contract”.
What is the significance of these indictments, according to US Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr.?
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. They represent an important milestone in two major cryptocurrency investigations.