The US DOJ charged Vinnick with 17 counts of laundering up to $4 billion since the exchange was founded in 2011. Meanwhile, French prosecutors charged him for “extortion, conspiracy and harming automatic data-processing systems.” French authorities believe he helped create the ransomware “Locky,” which was spread through email and was used to attack French businesses and organizations between 2016 and 2018. At least 20 entities in the country ended up paying ransom money in Bitcoin to get their networks freed.
Vinnik’s side argued in court that he was only a technical operator carrying out instructions from BTC-e’s directors. While the court still ended up convicting him for money laundering, it’s hardly the worst-case scenario for Vinnick. According to ZDNet, French prosecutors were only able to prove one of the 14 charges brought against him, and it wasn’t the one involving Locky. That means he was able to avoid the 10-year sentence and the €750,000 fine the prosecutors had requested.