The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed charges against two Russian nationals, Alexey Bilyuchenko, age 43, and Aleksandr Verner, age 29, for their alleged involvement in the infamous 2011 hack of the Mt. Gox cryptocurrency exchange and the subsequent operation of the shadowy cryptocurrency exchange, BTC-e.
The charges alleged Bilyuchenko and Verner conspired to launder a staggering 647,000 Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC), which they purportedly stole from Mt. Gox.
In addition to this, Bilyuchenko was charged with conspiring with Alexander Vinnik to operate BTC-e from 2011 to 2017.
Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division emphasized the significance of this development, stating, “This announcement marks an important milestone in two major cryptocurrency investigations.
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.
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 cybercriminals worldwide.
According to court documents from the Southern District of New York, Bilyuchenko, Verner and their co-conspirators gained unauthorized access to the server of Mt. Gox, which at the time was the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world, around September 2011.
The server, located in Japan, contained the cryptocurrency wallets and private keys of Mt. Gox’s customers.
Between September 2011 and May 2014, they are accused of stealing approximately 647,000 Bitcoin, representing a significant majority of Mt. Gox customers’ holdings.
The documents alleged that by using their unauthorized access, the stolen Bitcoin was largely laundered through Bitcoin addresses associated with accounts that Bilyuchenko, Verner and their co-conspirators controlled at two other online Bitcoin exchanges.