Both BTC-e and Vinnik have been indicted on 21 charges of money laundering, with BTC-e deemed as a compliant party for "operating an unlicensed money service business".
The group Wizsec, which came to prominence in 2015 investigating the Mt Gox collapse, has gone on the record accusing Vinnik of laundering the proceeds of the Bitcoin theft that helped bring down the once-dominant exchange. If those allegations are confirmed, it would lay to rest one of the biggest unsolved crimes in the Bitcoin world.
The company has operated their business in the U.S. while they violated various laws and protocols regarding money laundering.
Vinnik is the suspected mastermind behind a large systematic arrangement in which crypto-currencies, like bitcoin, were exchanged anonymously with other more legitimate forms of money.
"This action should be a strong deterrent to anyone who thinks that they can facilitate ransomware, dark net drug sales, or conduct other illicit activity using encrypted virtual currency". The BTC-e.com operation has been notoriously close guarded about its operations which indeed is its legal right. FinCEN said it identified at least $3 million worth of transactions tied to ransomware attacks as well, such as "Cryptolocker" and "Locky". The exchange was rumored to be based in Bulgaria, but it used a variety of shell companies and intermediaries to hide its operations. Former CEO Mark Karpeles originally blamed the closure on a cyberattack, but Japanese law enforcement suspected otherwise - arresting the executive who now faces trial for embezzlement and the loss of customer funds.
The author has made a number of transactions on BTC-e.com and all were made in an entirely satisfactory manner.
The site has been down for the past day, with users receiving a message that the site is "under maintenance".
BTC-E was founded in 2011, just as Bitcoin began to gain significant value for the first time.
Bitcoin is often described as an anonymous payment platform.
But, in announcing the unsealed indictment, government officials issued stark warnings to digital currency exchanges. And the indictment suggests that Vinnik didn't do a good job of covering his tracks.
BTC-e is an internet-based, foreign-located money transmitter that exchanges fiat currency as well as the convertible digital currencies Bitcoin, Litecoin, Namecoin, Novacoin, Peercoin, Ethereum, and Dash.
He stated, that another administrator of BTC-e probably has access to the exchange, and now, most likely tries to solve the situation.