Russian Wanted by U.S. Over $4 Billion Bitcoin Crime Caught in GreeceTHE ASSOCIATED PRESS (COSTAS KANTOURIS)
Thessaloniki, Greece (AP) -- A Russian man wanted in the United States on suspicion of masterminding a money laundering operation involving at least $4 billion through bitcoin transactions was ordered held in custody in Greece on Wednesday until a U.S. extradition request can be examined.
The 38-year-old, who has not been officially named, has denied any involvement. He was arrested Tuesday morning in northern Greece in cooperation with U.S. authorities, with police seizing electronic equipment, including mobile phones, two laptops and five tablets, from his hotel room.
The man has been accused of laundering an estimated $4 billion since 2011 by using the online bitcoin currency. Greek police said he had been directing a criminal organization that owns, operates and manages "one of the largest cybercrime websites in the world."
The man appeared before a prosecutor in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, who ordered him held in custody pending the extradition request examination. Under Greek law, he can be held for up to two months until the request is examined.
A Greek police official said U.S. authorities accused the man and unnamed associates of running a website that carried out bitcoin conversions for proceeds from online hacking ransom, drug running, identity theft and tax violations. The official spoke only on condition of anonymity because the information was not yet officially disclosed.
Ioanna Spanou in Athens contributed to this report.