Russian authorities have reportedly arrested the second co-founder of seized cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato. The man, who recently promised to restore the platform’s operations from Russia, was detained at the request of Interpol and may face extradition to France.
Another Co-Founder of the Russia-Linked Bitzlato Exchange Apprehended in Moscow
Anton Shkurenko, co-founder of the recently busted digital asset exchange Bitzlato, has been arrested in Moscow, the Russian Telegram channel Baza reported. According to a post published on Tuesday, the crypto entrepreneur was wanted by French investigators who suspect him of extortion, data theft, and money laundering.
Better known to the Russian-speaking market, Bitzlato was taken down in an international law enforcement operation in January. The coin trading platform is said to have processed over $700 million in illicit funds received from criminal entities, including the darknet market Hydra and the Russian crypto pyramid Finiko.
The Hong Kong-registered exchange was established in 2017 by Shkurenko and his partner Anatoly Legkodymov, after launching the previous year as a trading bot called BTC Banker which facilitated peer-to-peer transactions.
Legkodymov, a Russian national residing in China, was arrested by U.S. authorities in Miami last month. An earlier report by Baza claims that about a year ago he transferred his share in Bitzlato to his partner and left the post of CEO.
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) detained another three Bitzlato executives — the company’s current CEO, financial director, and marketing director — and a system administrator, in Spain and Cyprus. French law enforcement authorities took control of its servers and its website.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is alleging that criminal proceeds from ransomware attacks, hacks, scams, and extortions passed through Bitzlato. According to data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, transferred cryptocurrency worth nearly $346 million for the platform.
Russian authorities are yet decide whether to extradite Anton Shkurenko to France, the report noted. The news of his arrest comes after last week he said in an interview with a crypto Youtube channel that Bitzlato’s remaining team intends to relocate the business to Russia and relaunch operations, including withdrawals.
Do you expect other arrests in the Bitzlato case and do you think Russia will hand over its co-founder to France? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.