The US DOJ has accused Vinnick of 17 counts of money laundering of up to $ 4 billion since the exchange’s inception in 2011. Meanwhile, French prosecutors accused him for “extortion, conspiracy and attack on automatic data processing systems”. French authorities believe he helped create the “Locky” ransomware, which was distributed via email and was used to attack French businesses and organizations between 2016 and 2018. At least 20 entities across the country ended up paying a ransom in Bitcoin to free their networks.
Vinnik’s side argued in court that he was just a technical operator carrying out the instructions of the directors of BTC-e. While the court still ended up convicting him of money laundering, it’s not the worst-case scenario for Vinnick. According to ZDNetFrench prosecutors were only able to prove one of the 14 charges against him, and it was not the one involving Locky. This means that he was able to avoid the 10-year sentence and the € 750,000 fine requested by prosecutors.