The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is charging two Russian nationals for their alleged involvement in the infamous hack of defunct crypto exchange Mt. Gox.
In a new press release, the DOJ says that it is charging two Russian citizens 43-year-old Alexey Bilyuchenko and 29-year-old Aleksandr Verner for allegedly conspiring to launder hundreds of thousands of Bitcoin (BTC) hacked from Mt. Gox.
Furthermore, Bilyuchenko is also charged with conspiring to operate BTC-e, a crypto exchange allegedly linked to money laundering and the Mt. Gox hack, from 2011 to 2017 alongside its founder Alexander Vinnik.
As stated by US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York in the press release,
As cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in their methods of thievery, our career prosecutors and law enforcement partners, too, have become experts in the latest technologies being abused for malicious purposes.
As alleged, Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner thought they could outsmart the law by using sophisticated hacks to steal and launder massive amounts of cryptocurrency, a novel technology at the time, but the charges unsealed demonstrate our ability to tenaciously pursue these alleged criminals, no matter how complex their schemes, until they are brought to justice.
The court documents reveal that from September 2011 to about May 2014, Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators gained unauthorized access to the server holding the wallets of Mt. Gox, which at the time was the largest BTC exchange in the world, and allegedly transferred 647,000 BTC from the platform to wallets controlled by them.
With BTC trading for $26,542 at time of writing, that totals about $17.17 billion worth of the crypto king.
In an attempt to launder the stolen BTC, the defendants allegedly entered into a fraudulent advertising contract, according to the press release.
Under the guise of the Advertising Contract, in order to conceal and liquidate the Bitcoins stolen from Mt. Gox, Bilyuchenko and Verner allegedly made regular requests to the owner and operator of the New York Bitcoin Broker to make large wire transfers into various offshore bank accounts, including in the names of shell corporations, controlled by Bilyuchenko, Verner, and their co-conspirators.
If convicted, both Bilyuchenko and Verner face decades behind bars.
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