BTC-e server admin indicted for laundering ransom payments, stolen crypto


Aliaksandr Klimenka, a Belarusian and Cypriot national, has been indicted in the U.S. for his involvement in an international cybercrime money laundering operation.

The U.S. Department of Justice announcement says that Klimenka controlled the unlicensed digital currency exchange BTC-e, the technology services company Soft-FX, and the financial company FX Open.

The indictment alleges that Klimenka, through these firms, facilitated transactions linked to various cybercrimes, including ransomware, identity theft, illicit substance trafficking, scams, and hacking.

BTC-e was a cryptocurrency trading platform that primarily served the Russian market, with U.S. law enforcement seizing it in 2017 following theĀ arrest of its owner, Alexander Vinnik, in Greece.

The U.S. DoJ alleged back then that the platform was used to launder funds stolen during the hack of Japanese crypto exchange platform Mt. Gox, as well as ransom payments for the Locky, Cerber, NotPetya, WannaCry, and Spora ransomware operations.

The platform had a notable presence in the U.S. but did not register as a money services business with the U.S. Department of Treasury, did not require the “know your customer” (KYC) and identity verification, and didn’t have any anti-money laundering mechanisms in place.

“BTC-e allegedly facilitated transactions for cybercriminals worldwide and received criminal proceeds from numerous computer intrusions and hacking incidents, ransomware scams, identity theft schemes, corrupt public officials, and narcotics distribution rings, and allegedly was used to facilitate crimes ranging from computer hacking to fraud, identity theft, tax refund fraud schemes, public corruption, and drug trafficking.” – U.S. DoJ.

Klimenka, now 42 years old, controlled BTC-e between 2011 and July 2017 until Vinnik’s arrest and the subsequent takedown of the site.

According to the latest announcement, Klimenka managed and maintained the U.S.-based servers that supported BTC-e’s operations through his Soft-EX company.

The man was arrested at the request of the United States in Latvia on December 21, 2023, and made his first appearance in a San Francisco court yesterday.

For the charges of money laundering conspiracy and operating an unlicensed money services business, Klimenka faces a possible maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.

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