Washington, Jun 10 (IANS): The US government has charged two Russian nationals in connection with the $400 million Bitcoin hack that brought down the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange in 2014.
The Department of Justice (DoJ) announced the unsealing of charges against Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner, both Russian nationals.
Bilyuchenko and Verner are charged in the Southern District of New York with conspiring to launder approximately 647,000 bitcoins from the 2011 hack of Mt. Gox, which was worth around $400 million at the time (called the SDNA case).
Bilyuchenko is separately charged in the Northern District of California with conspiring with Vinnik to operate the illicit cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e from 2011 to 2017 (the NDCA Case).
"As alleged, Bilyuchenko and Verner thought they could outsmart the law by using sophisticated hacks to steal and launder massive amounts of cryptocurrency, a novel technology at the time," said US Attorney Damian Williams.
However, "the charges unsealed demonstrate our ability to tenaciously pursue these alleged criminals, no matter how complex their schemes, until they are brought to justice".
Starting in 2011, Bilyuchenko and Verner stole a massive amount of cryptocurrency from Mt. Gox, contributing to the exchange's ultimate insolvency.
Armed with the ill-gotten gains from Mt. Gox, Bilyuchenko allegedly went on to help set up the notorious BTC-e virtual currency exchange, which laundered funds for cybercriminals worldwide.
"These indictments highlight the department's unwavering commitment to bring to justice bad actors in the cryptocurrency ecosystem and prevent the abuse of the financial system," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr.
If convicted of the charge in the SDNY Indictment, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
If convicted of the charges in the NDCA Indictment, Bilyuchenko faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, said the DoJ.