A large amount of crypto-currencies held in a wallet associated with crypto-currency exchange Wex, the successor to the infamous exchange platform run by alleged money launderer Alexander Vinnik, has moved for the first time since 2017. The 10,000 bitcoins in question, worth more than $165 million, were transferred to new addresses in several transactions.
Bitcoins stored in Wex’s dormant wallet move for the first time in five years.
The unknown holder of a bitcoin wallet linked to the defunct Wex, once the largest crypto-currency exchange in the Russian-speaking market, has withdrawn 10,000 coins. The funds in this BTC The address was last moved in September 2017, when the same amount was sent.
Wex was created that year, after the collapse of BTC-e, which closed its doors after the arrest in Greece of one of its operators, Alexander Vinnik. The Russian computer scientist, currently in custody in the United States, is accused of laundering up to $9 billion through the exchange.
The digital currency transfer was first noticed by Sergey Mendeleev, founder of crypto-currency exchange Garantex and CEO of defi banking platform Indefibank. He wrote to the address revealed the discovery on his Telegram channel, according to a report from Russia’s leading crypto-currency news site Bits.media. The coins moved on Wednesday, November 23.
Several transactions were made, including two likely small-amount test transfers, before the €10,000 was paid out. The value of the withdrawn crypto-currency, at the time of this writing, exceeds $165 million in fiat equivalent.
Some $450 million was lost when Wex went offline in 2018. The platform is considered the successor to BTC-e, which reportedly handled money from the Mt Gox hack and other cybercrimes. It was operated by World Exchange Services, a Singapore-based company co-founded by Aleksey Bilyuchenko, a former partner of BTC-e administrator Alexander Vinnik.
Vinnik was detained in the summer of 2017 while on vacation in Thessaloniki. In addition to the United States, France and Russia have also requested his extradition. In December 2019, Greek authorities handed him over to France, where he served (taking into account pre-trial detention) a five-year sentence for money laundering. Vinnik was then returned to Greece, which immediately transferred him to the United States where he now faces multiple charges.
In March of this year, Russian law enforcement arrested a crypto-entrepreneur associated with an unidentified crypto exchange on suspicion of embezzling funds and assets. At the time, Sergey Mendeleev claimed that the arrested man was none other than Bilyuchenko. His ownership of Wex was exposed in a BBC report.
Dmitry Vasiliev, another co-owner and former general manager of Wex, was arrested in Poland in August 2021, then released by Polish authorities before returning to Russia. In June 2022, he was also arrested at Zagreb airport upon entry into Croatia on a red warrant issued by Interpol at the request of Kazakhstan, where he is wanted for alleged fraud.
In November last year, Mendeleev revealed that the Russian Interior Ministry had failed to act on a request from Wex users to assist in the blocking and seizure of crypto-funds withdrawn from a wallet controlled by the exchange. More than 10,000 ETH worth nearly $46 million at the time were withdrawn and transferred to other platforms.