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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

WATCH: Russian arrested over alleged digital currency laundering

Alexander Vinnik arrested in northern Greece

Alexander Vinnik (L) is arrested in Thessaloniki, Greece. Alexandros Avramidis / Reuters
Alexander Vinnik (L) is arrested in Thessaloniki, Greece. Alexandros Avramidis / Reuters

A US jury indicted a Russian man on Wednesday as the operator of a digital currency exchange he allegedly used to launder more than US$4 billion for people involved in crimes ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking.

Alexander Vinnik was arrested in a small beachside village in northern Greece on Tuesday, according to local authorities, following an investigation led by the US justice department along with several other federal agencies and task forces.

US officials described Mr Vinnik in a justice department statement as the operator of BTC-e, an exchange used to trade the digital currency bitcoin since 2011.

They alleged he and his firm "received" more than $4bn in bitcoin and did substantial business in the United States without following appropriate protocols to protect against money laundering and other crimes.

US authorities also linked him to the failure of Mt Gox, a Japan-based bitcoin exchange that collapsed in 2014 after being hacked. Mr Vinnik "obtained" funds from the hack of Mt Gox and laundered them through BTC-e and Tradehill, another San Francisco-based exchange he owned, officials said in the statement.

It was not possible to reach Mr Vinnik for comment.

Reuters