Russian authorities have released the recently arrested co-founder of crypto exchange Bitzlato, said to have processed illicit funds worth millions of U.S. dollars. Anton Shkurenko, who was questioned in Moscow, denies the French charges against him that became the reason for his brief detention.
Shkurenko Says Potential Case Against Him in Russia Won’t Interfere With Bitzlato Relaunch
Russian prosecutors have asked France to send materials from its investigation into the seized digital asset exchange Bitzlato in order to determine whether to initiate additional proceedings in Russia, the platform’s co-founder Anton Shkurenko revealed to crypto media.
The trading platform was targeted in an international law enforcement operation last month when French authorities took down its website and established control over its servers while its other co-founder and majority owner, Anatoly Legkodymov, was arrested in Miami.
At the time, the U.S. said that the Hong Kong-registered Bitzlato, better known to Russian traders, had processed $700 million of illicit funds between 2018 and 2022. Europol, which detained another four members of its team, believes the exchange has laundered over $1 billion. It received most of the transfers from criminal entities such as the darknet market Hydra and the crypto pyramid Finiko.
Shkurenko explained that on Feb. 7 he was approached by police officers in Moscow who checked his documents, informed him he was on the Interpol wanted list and detained him. He was then taken to the Tver Inter-District Prosecutor’s Office where he was questioned.
“Based on my explanation, the prosecutor issued a non-detention order and they released me,” Shkurenko told the crypto news outlet Forklog, noting that authorities in France suspect him of crimes under 19 articles without elaborating.
“What this means for Russian justice, I don’t understand yet. Russia does not extradite its citizens,” he also said, adding that the prosecutors want to analyze the French materials on the case in order to decide if they should open another case in the Russian Federation.
Anton Shkurenko reiterated that he denies all charges against him. Last week, he announced in an interview that Bitzlato will restore operations from Russia. The potential risk of a Russian criminal case should not interfere with these plans, he assured now.
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