The Greek police have uncovered a plot to assassinate Alexander Vinnik, the Russian citizen that has been accused of having a hand in the Mt. Gox heist. Back in July 2017, a Japanese Cybersecurity firm, WizSec, revealed that Vinnik was actively involved in laundering $4 billion worth of bitcoin from the Mt. Gox and Bitcoinica crypto exchange hacks.
Murder Attempt on Russian National
According to Russian news source Sputnik, local authorities force received insider information about a planned murder operation several months ago but felt that making the news public could hamper investigations.
“The Greek law enforcement received intelligence on plans to prepare an assassination via poisoning with the help of criminals. The head of the prison and the prosecutor of the city of Thessaloniki summoned Vinnik and informed him about the plot to poison him, and special security measures were taken in connection with that,” Sputnik’s source said.
Sputnik further noted that security had been beefed up around Vinnik and he has been ordered not to receive food or water from prison warders with which he’s not familiar. As part of security measures, he’s been barred from mingling with other inmates presently as it is feared that they could also be used in the operation.
Murder Plot Not Connected to Special Services
Sources close to the case firmly believe that Vinnik’s murder attempt isn’t connected to special forces of any nation, noting that the murder attempt is linked to the underworld as many were not happy about Vinnik’s blocked extradition to the United States.
“It all began after Vinniks’s extradition to the United States was blocked. There [are] people who are extremely interested in him not coming to Russia. The assassination was ordered by some unknown person from Russia,” the source noted.
Though sources have said simple criminals orchestrated the murder plot, that claim may not be one hundred percent correct. Notably, Vinnik wrote an “acknowledgment of guilt” in Russia, stating that “he knows about crimes committed in the sphere of financial technologies,” adding that “he is ready to give testimony in Russia and assist the investigation.”
In essence, there is a chance that Vinnik has some vital information that could lead to the arrest of some heavyweights in the cryptosphere, hence the suspected attempts to poison him, in a bid to silence him forever.
Since Vinnik’s arrest on July 26, 2017, there have been many unanswered questions concerning his involvement in the Mt.Gox hack. Amidst this backdrop, the US government and its law enforcement agencies requested the extradition of Vinnik to the States in a bid to solve the puzzles, but their efforts proved futile as the suspect’s lawyer explained that Vinnik would appeal the extradition ruling at the European Court of Human Rights.
In October 2017, BTCManager reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry had condemned Vinnik’s extradition to the United States. Boris Zilberman, a Russian analyst at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, reiterated that:
“[Vinnik’s] only bargaining chip is to turn over what he knows. And nobody knows what he could say. Was he purely a lone actor? Does he know the wider chart of people involved across these currency spaces conducting this type of behavior? Can he flip on others?” he also continued by saying:
“Everyone is worrying about the unknowns. And the murkiest questions is – the $4 billion that he was laundering – who and what were involved? If you’re taking the more conspiratorial viewpoint, you ask, are the Russians afraid of Vinnik turning that information to the U.S.?”
Too many unanswered questions indeed and the puzzles could remain unsolved for many years to come.