Former chief executive of the Russian cryptocurrency exchange Wex, Dmitry Vasiliev, has been released from arrest in Warsaw earlier this month. The ex-head of the now-defunct coin trading platform has since returned to Russia while court proceedings against him in Poland are still ongoing.
Polish Court Rejects Extradition of Wex Executive to Kazakhstan
Authorities in Poland have released Dmitry Vasiliev, the man who was at the helm of Wex, once Russia’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The 34-year-old native of Belarus was detained at the Warsaw airport on Aug. 11, initially for a period of 40 days but he remained in custody for almost four months.
Vasiliev told the Russian business news portal RBC that he was allowed to leave on Dec. 7 and has since returned to Russia where he resides. His Polish lawyer further explained that the court has dismissed his extradition to Kazakhstan but is yet to make a final decision on his case.
The former Wex executive was arrested after the disappearance of $450 million from accounts linked to the exchange. According to the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, the exchange’s management is responsible for the loss of money that belonged to citizens of EU member states, including Poland, and other countries.
Wex launched in September of 2017 and is regarded as the successor of the notorious BTC-e exchange. The latter ceased activities earlier that year, following the detention in Greece of one of its alleged operators, Alexander Vinnik, who was apprehended on a U.S. warrant.
American prosecutors accuse the Russian IT specialist of laundering up to $9 billion through BTC-e. He was sentenced to five years in prison by France last December. French judicial authorities also rejected his extradition to Russia, where he is implicated in other crimes.
Dmitry Vasiliev was also detained in Italy, in the summer of 2019, on a request from Interpol in connection with the criminal case against him in Kazakhstan where he is wanted on fraud charges. Then, in August of the same year, Italian authorities released Vasiliev despite ongoing criminal proceedings against him in a number of other countries such as Russia, Belarus and China.
In September, reports revealed that 100 ETH had been withdrawn from a Wex wallet, the first movement of the funds in three years. The remaining balance of 9,916 ETH, worth $30 million at the time, was also transferred to a new address a few days later. In November, the Russian interior ministry, MVD, was accused of failing to act on a request from victims of the exchange to seize its assets.
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Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.
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