The Russian crypto exchange BTC-e in fact turned out to be a money laundering organization for Russian cybercriminals in particular. The exchange was used by, among others, the hackers who tried to influence the US elections of 2016. Eline Ronner discovered this in her podcast ‘The cold crypto war’.
Ever since its inception in 2011, BTC-e has been a hub of cryptocurrency laundering and criminal activity. Between 2011 and 2017, it is estimated that at least $4 billion was laundered on the stock market. At least part of it was about stolen crypto coins. BTC-e was nicknamed “the Bitcoin launderette of the underworld.”
A well-known cybergroup doing business on BTC-e was Fancy Bear, which attempted to influence the 2016 US presidential election. It is widely believed that there are ties between this group and the Kremlin, which means there is also a link between BTC-e and the Russian secret service. Remarkable: after a sale of the crypto exchange in 2017, it was precisely the group behind the downing of MH17 that took over the crypto exchange.
The central figure behind the shadowy platform is the Russian Alexander Vinnik. He was picked off a Greek beach in his swimsuit on July 25, 2017 at the request of the FBI. Until then he had managed to operate in the lee. Since then, criminal facts have emerged that his platform was behind.
Moreover, there appears to be a ‘personal link’ with the Russian stock market. Ronner found out how crypto coins she herself had lost after a theft on MtGox, the Bitcoin platform where she traded, ended up on BTC-e.
Listen | The cold crypto war – BTC-e: the bitcoin laundromat of the underworld