New Zealand police seize $90 million linked to alleged bitcoin e-exchange operator. The seizure of funds, which were controlled by a New Zealand-registered company, is said to be the largest in the country ‘s history by federal police. According to a story by news outlet NZ Herald, the Asset Recovery Unit of the government decided to freeze the funds in the wake of a global inquiry into the practices of the exchange and its operators.
U.S. prosecutors have alleged that Vinnik controlled BTC-e, a bitcoin exchange for criminal enterprises used to launder billions of dollars. Vinnik, who has denied the charges for up to three years, was arrested on US extradition orders while on vacation with his family in Greece in 2017.
New Zealand police alleged the exchange had no anti-money laundering (AML) controls in place, resulting in criminals using the platform to launder the proceeds of the crime.
“New Zealand Police has worked closely with the Internal Revenue Service of the United States to address this very serious offending,” Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said. “These funds are likely to reflect the profit gained from the victimisation of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people globally as a result of cyber-crime and organised crime.”
Vinnik is now in custody in France after being extradited earlier this year following a ruling from Greece’s Council of State, the country’s supreme administrative court on January 23.
French officials have since charged him with counts of extortion, aggravated money laundering, conspiracy and harming automatic data-processing systems for his alleged involvement in laundering money for criminals.