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A Russian computer programmer involved in the collapse of a big cryptocurrency exchange says he was tricked inlớn handing over its entire assets to fraudsters posing as FSB agents, according to lớn documents obtained by Đài truyền hình Russian.

Alexei Bilyuchenko was a key player in Wex, which stopped trading in 2018, leaving customers unable to lớn access investments totalling nearly half a billion US dollars. Russian has spent months investigating the murky world of Russian cryptocurrency trading, trying to lớn find out what happened to the money.

It's a story worthy of the Đài truyền hình TV drama McMafia, involving an unlikely cast of characters from computer geeks and FBI agents, lớn a billionaire oligarch with ties lớn the war in Ukraine.

The story begins in the Russian đô thị of Novosibirsk in August 2017 where Alexei Bilyuchenko, a former IT manager for a furniture siêu thị chain, was lying low having narrowly escaped arrest on holiday in Greece.

Six years earlier he and business partner Alexander Vinnik, an electronic cash transfer speciadanh sách, had met online and made a life-changing decision to lớn get involved in cryptocurrency trading.

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Described by friends as shy men who preferred computers to lớn people, Alexander Vinnik and Alexei Bilyuchenko phối up an exchange called BTC-e which was lớn become notorious.

Like similar exchanges around the world, BTC-e offered investors the chance khổng lồ use real money lớn buy virtual currencies.

Unlike other exchanges in Europe và the US, BTC-e did not ask customers for their ID, meaning that as well as appealing khổng lồ legitimate investors, it also offered a potential way for organised criminals to lớn launder money.


Customers flocked to lớn invest in BTC-e and, according khổng lồ Global Witness, by năm nhâm thìn it had become the third largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world.

The two partners communicated online and they only met in person in 2014 when their daily bitcoin trading reached $2m. By the time it hit $10m in năm 2016 they held a family các buổi tiệc nhỏ in Moscow.

In July 2017 they went on holiday to Greece, unaware US federal agents investigating international money laundering were on their trail.


The FBI suspected BTC-e was involved in hiding funds stolen from the hack of another bitcoin exchange, Mt Gox. Cybercrime experts also thought it was being used by the mysterious Russian hacking group Fancy Bears.

A warrant was issued for Alexander Vinnik's arrest and Greek police detained hyên on the beach, in front of his wife and children.

His mother called Alexei Bilyuchenko, who was in a different resort. In a panic, he smashed his máy tính xách tay, threw it into the sea and jumped on the next flight khổng lồ Moscow.

Baông xã home in Novosibirsk, Mr Bilyuchenko decided lớn try khổng lồ recoup his losses by setting up another exchange called Wex (World Exchange Services).

The FBI had seized BTC-e's website but he still had the back-up servers and, via Wex, he was able khổng lồ return investments to some BTC-e clients.

At this stage, according to the version of events he later told police, and which has been shared with the Đài truyền hình, Alexei Bilyuchenko decided he needed a backer khổng lồ offer some protection.

He says he was introduced to Konstantin Malofeyev, a Moscow-based billionaire, with svào ties to both the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church.


Mr Malofeyev, who made his fortune in investment banking, is currently under US và EU sanctions for alleged link khổng lồ rebel fighters in Eastern Ukraine.

In his police statements Alexei Bilyuchenko says he was invited lớn Moscow several times lớn meet Mr Malofeyev in his offices in a high-kết thúc shopping plaza.

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The topic of how much money Wex was generating allegedly figured large in their conversations, as did the question of what might have sầu happened lớn the funds held by BTC-e until the FBI swooped.

"For several months Malofeyev demanded I show hyên ổn the Wex cryptocurrency balances," Mr Bilyuchencko told police.

Angry clients began demanding their money bachồng & one filed a complaint with police in Russia's Chuvashiya region.

He said he had actually lost control of Wex in the spring of 2018, several months before it officially collapsed.

He said that at a meeting in Konstantin Malofeyev's Moscow office he had been introduced khổng lồ some men he understood were agents from the security service, the FSB.

They took hyên to lớn a building used by the FSB, not far from the Bolshoi Theatre. They asked hlặng about Wex và then took hyên ổn lớn the luxury Lotte hotel near the Russian foreign ministry where he says he remained under guard all night.

According to Mr Bilyuchenko, the next morning he was taken baông chồng lớn Mr Malofeyev's office, where it was strongly suggested he should move the funds held by Wex into lớn "an FSB fund", which he agreed khổng lồ, and, according to him, on his next visit khổng lồ Moscow he transferred everything as requested.

Bachồng home in Novosibirsk, it began to dawn on hyên ổn, he says. He had, he claims, been the victlặng of a scam &, rather than transferring the money into lớn state coffers, he had actually been tricked into handing it over lớn Mr Malofeyev's associates.

Since telling his story khổng lồ the police Mr Bilyuchenko has gone into lớn hiding. Private security guards now protect his home and he has declined khổng lồ speak lớn the or anyone else about Wex.

Alexander Terentiev, who heads a campaign group for defrauded investors, told the he was not convinced. But others seem less sceptical.

Since the end of November, courts, public buildings, metro stations and shopping centres in Moscow và St Petersburg have sầu been paralysed by almost daily hoax bomb threats.

According to lớn reports in Russian truyền thông, several of the emailed warnings have sầu included references to lớn Wex's missing millions và to lớn Mr Malofeyev.

A statement issued via Mr Malofeyev's Tsargrad TV channel described the bomb threats as part of "a chiến dịch of discreditation" against hyên ổn.

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"Neither Konstantin Malofeyev nor his companies have anything to lớn vày with the theft of Bitcoins, the Wex exchange, or its management," it said.

Mr Malofeyev has declined to speak to the Đài truyền hình about the case and the FSB has not responded to lớn the's request for phản hồi.

Meanwhile, in Greece, two years after his dramatic arrest on the beach, Alexei Bilyuchenko's former business partner Alexander Vinnik is still in jail.

The US, Russia & France are all seeking his extradition. He has not seen his wife, now suffering from a brain tumour, for two years,

His lawyer Timofei Musatov told the the former bitcoin multi-millionaire had been on a long hunger strike & was now a shadow of his former self.