12 June 2023

US authorities charge two Russians with 2011 Mt. Gox hack


US authorities charge two Russians with 2011 Mt. Gox hack

The US Department of Justice has charged two Russian nationals in relation to the 2011 historic breach of Mt. Gox, one of the largest bitcoin exchanges in existence. The exchange never recovered from the theft and shut down in 2014.

The accused, Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner, allegedly stole about 647,000 bitcoins -valued at some $450 million - from Mt. Gox between September 2011 through at least May 2014. Additionally, Bilyuchenko faces separate charges related to running the infamous Russian crypto exchange BTC-e shut down by authorities on 2017.

According to the DoJ, the defendants together with their accomplices hacked a server holding cryptocurrency wallets for Mt. Gox containing customers’ bitcoin and the corresponding private keys used to authorize bitcoin transfers from those wallets on a computer server in Japan.

The attackers then transferred digital coins from the customers’ wallets to bitcoin addresses under their control. As part of the money laundering scheme Bilyuchenko and Verner allegedly entered into a fraudulent contract with a bitcoin brokerage service in the Southern District of New York to liquidate and transfer more than $6.6 million to overseas bank accounts.

Prosecutors allege that Bilyuchenko worked with Russian national Alexander Vinnik to operate BTC-e, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges used by multiple cybercriminals for money laundering. Vinnik was arrested in 2017 in Greece and extradited to the US in August 2022.

Bilyuchenko and Verner are being charged for conspiracy to commit money laundering and are facing a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison if convicted.

If convicted of the charges related to BTC-e Bilyuchenko faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

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