A large amount of cryptocurrency held in a wallet associated with crypto exchange Wex, successor to the infamous trading platform run by alleged money launderer Alexander Vinnik, has moved for the first time since 2017. The 10 000 bitcoins in question, worth more than $165 million, moved to new addresses in multiple transactions.
Bitcoin Stored in Dormant Wex Wallet Moves for the First Time in Five Years
The unknown holder of a bitcoin wallet linked to the now defunct Wex, once the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the Russian-speaking market, withdrew 10,000 coins. funds to this BTC the address last moved in September 2017, when the same amount was sent.
Wex was created that year, following the collapse of BTC-e, which shut down after the arrest in Greece of one of its operators, Alexander Vinnik. The Russian IT specialist, who is currently being held in the United States, is accused of laundering up to $9 billion through the exchange.
The transfer of digital money was first noticed by Sergey Mendeleev, founder of cryptocurrency exchange Garantex and CEO of defi banking platform Indefibank. He revealed the discovery on his Telegram channel, according to a report by leading Russian crypto outlet Bits.media. The pieces were moved on Wednesday, November 23.
Several transactions were made, including two probable test transfers of small amounts, before the 10,000 BTC has been sent. 3,500 BTC was transferred to an address and 6,500 BTC went to another, probably a change of address. The value of the withdrawn cryptocurrency, at the time of writing, exceeds $165 million in fiat equivalent.
Some $450 million was lost when Wex went offline in 2018. The platform is considered the successor of BTC-e, which allegedly processed money from the The Mount Gox hack and other cyber crimes. It was operated by World Exchange Services, a Singapore-based company co-founded by Aleksey Bilyuchenko, a former partner of BTC-e administrator Alexander Vinnik.
Vinnik was arrested in the summer of 2017 while on vacation in Thessaloniki. Besides the United States, France and Russia have also requested his extradition. In December 2019, the Greek authorities handed him over to France where he served (considering pre-trial detention) a five-year sentence for money laundering. Vinnik was then sent back to Greece which immediately transferred took him to the United States where he now faces multiple charges.
In March this year, Russian law enforcement detained a crypto entrepreneur associated with an unidentified crypto exchange and suspected of embezzling funds and property. At the time, Sergey Mendeleev claimed that the man arrested was none other than Bilyuchenko. His ownership of Wex was revealed in a BBC report.
Dmitry Vasiliev, another co-owner and former managing director of Wex, was stopped in Poland in August 2021 and after published by the Polish authorities before returning to Russia. In June 2022, he was also detained at Zagreb airport upon entering Croatia, on a red warrant issued by Interpol at the request of Kazakhstan where he is wanted for fraud.
In November last year, Mendeleev revealed that the Russian Interior Ministry had lack to act at the request of Wex users to assist in the blocking and seizure of crypto funds withdrawn from an exchange-controlled wallet. Over 10,000 ETHworth almost $46 million at the time, were taken down and transferred to other platforms.
Who do you think removed the cryptocurrency from the wallet linked to Wex and BTC-e? Share your thoughts on the case in the comments section below.
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