Economy

Greece satisfies Russia's extradition request for citizen accused of money laundering

A court in the Greek city of Saloniki satisfied Moscow's extradition request for Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik at its hearing on Wednesday, his lawyer Ilias Spirliadis told TASS. In the aftermath of the ruling, Vinnik and his defense attorneys - who deny all charges - expressed his desire to return to Russian Federation, where he would be brought up on lesser fraud charges.

Judges ruled last week that he should be extradited to the U.S., a decision Russian Federation criticised as unjust and illegal and which Vinnik is challenging at Greece's supreme court.

Russia's Prosecutor-General's Office requested Vinnik's extradition to Russian Federation.

Should it decide to uphold the ruling to extradite him to the United States, the final decision is in the hands of Greece's justice minister, who can approve extradition to one country and block the other.

"When both requests from two different countries are accepted (in court), like in this case, it's up to the Justice Minister to decide which request to comply with", said Xanthippe Moissidou, one of Vinnik's lawyers.

U.S. officials charge that as the operator of BTC-e, Vinnik extensively laundered criminal proceeds thereby facilitating drug trafficking and hacking, accusations that he has repeatedly denied. Instead, Vinnik claims he was simply a technical consultant and BTC-e was one of his clients.

"If the Supreme Court rejects the USA request, as our client wants, the minister is obliged to follow (its) decision", Moissidou said.

Alexander Vinnik, who headed BTC-e, an exchange he operated for the cyber currency, was indicted by a United States court in July on 21 charges ranging from identity theft and facilitating drug trafficking to money laundering.



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