Vinnik’s attorney appeals against 5-year prison sentence

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The defense team of Alexander Vinnik, an alleged Bitcoin launderer who was sentenced to a five-year prison term, disagrees with the court’s decision.

According to a Dec. 18 report by Russian news agency Kommersant, Vinnik’s attorney Frederic Belot has appealed the French court’s judgement, arguing that the defendant was not involved in any money laundering operations.

Citing a Dec. 6 judgement charging Vinnik for “money laundering as part of an organized criminal group,” Belot emphasized that no “criminal group” consists of one person. “The court did not name a single name even supposedly belonging to this group,” Belot reportedly said.

According to Belot, Vinnik was rather a victim of his anonymous “employers” at now-defunct crypto exchange BTC-e, as his involvement in managing the platform has not been proved: “Vinnik was just a full-time trader and he did not participate, at least consciously, in any money laundering operations,” Belot declared.

Vinnik’s defense expects the court to hear the appeal in four months, Belot noted. Lawyers also argued that the judgement by the Paris court was based on an investigation subject to interference from United States intelligence agencies. According to the report, Vinnik faces a 50-year prison term in the U.S. in the event of potential extradition.

Colloquially known as “Mr. Bitcoin,” Vinnik is the convicted creator of a global illegal scheme that laundered over $4 billion worth of capital flows through BTC-e. More than three years after his arrest in Greece, Vinnik’s trial finally happened in early December 2020. Vinnik previously denied his involvement at BTC-e, claiming that he was just an employee at the firm.