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The United States Department of Justice today charged two Russian men with criminal acts related to the hack of collapsed Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox.
In a statement Friday, the DOJ said that 43-year-old Alexey Bilyuchenko and 29-year-old Aleksandr Verner were charged with conspiring to steal approximately 647,000 Bitcoin from the exchange between 2011 and 2014. The tally represented "vast majority of the ]Bitcoin] belonging to Mt. Gox’s customers," according to the DOJ.
Mt. Gox was a Japanese Bitcoin exchange that was forced to shut down in 2014 after a crippling hack. Once the largest such exchange in the world, criminals stole 850,000 Bitcoin—today worth $22.6 billion—in the exploit.
Investors who lost their funds are still waiting to get it back from Nobuaki Kobayashi, the Rehabilitation Trustee.
But creditors in 2021 approved a rehabilitation proposal—which promised to remunerate about 90% of the assets owed to affected customers—back in 2021. Out of pocket investors had to file claims in March to get their funds back.
The DOJ further charged Bilyuchenko for allegedly conspiring with another Russian, Alexander Vinnik, to operate BTC-e—a crypto exchange shut down by the FBI back in 2017 for allegedly laundering funds for international criminals.
“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,” said the Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in the announcement.
BTC-e operated in the United States from 2011 to 2017 and handled an estimated $9 billion in Bitcoin transactions during that time. The team behind the exchange allowed criminals to trade Bitcoin anonymously and launder dirty funds, the DOJ previously alleged.
Bilyuchenko was hit with money laundering conspiracy and operating an unlicensed money services business; Verner was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, the DOJ said.