The US federal government has charged two Russian nationals in connection with the series of hacks that brought down the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange in 2014. In a press release on Friday, the Department of Justice says it charged Alexey Bilyuchenko and Aleksandr Verner with conspiring to launder 647,000 Bitcoins stolen from the exchange, which was worth around $400 million at the time.
The government is separately charging Bilyuchenko for working with Alexander Vinnik — who the DOJ indicted in 2017 — for operating BTC-e, a now-defunct crypto exchange that served as “one of the primary ways by which cyber criminals around the world transferred, laundered, and stored the criminal proceeds of their illegal activities.”
At the time of Vinnik’s indictment, the government alleged that stolen funds from Mt. Gox passed through BTC-e and wallets associated with Vinnik. Now the DOJ alleges that Bilyuchenko, Verner, and other co-conspirators laundered over 300,000 Bitcoins that had been stolen from Mt. Gox as well.
“As alleged in the indictments, starting in 2011, Bilyuchenko and Verner stole a massive amount of cryptocurrency from Mt. Gox, contributing to the exchange’s ultimate insolvency,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. says in a statement. “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 cyber criminals worldwide.”
While Bilyuchenko faces charges with conspiracy to commit money laundering and operating an unlicensed money services business and over 20 years behind bars, Verner is charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering with a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.