Russia Releases Bitzlato Co-Founder Anton Shkurenko After Questioning – According to the platform’s co-founder Anton Shkurenko, Russian prosecutors have asked France to transfer data from its investigation into the confiscated digital asset exchange Bitzlato in order to evaluate whether to begin additional proceedings in Russia.
Last month, the trading platform was the target of an international law enforcement investigation when French authorities pulled down its website and took control of its servers, while its other co-founder and majority owner, Anatoly Legkodymov, was arrested in Miami.
People Also Read: Seoul Sanctions North Korea Over Crypto Theft
The US alleged at the time that the Hong Kong-registered Bitzlato, better known to Russian traders, handled $700 million in illicit transactions between 2018 and 2022. Europol, which has detained four more members of their team, believes the exchange has resulted in the laundering of more than $1 billion. It acquired the majority of its funds from criminal organizations such as the darknet market Hydra and the crypto pyramid Finiko.
Shkurenko stated that on February 7, he was approached by police officials in Moscow who verified his documents, informed him that he was wanted by Interpol, and detained him. He was then transferred to the Tver Inter-District Prosecutor’s Office and interrogated.
“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.
People Also Read: Kazakhstan Law Limiting Crypto Miners’ Consumption of Electricity Enters Into Force
Anton Shkurenko repeated his denial of all charges. In an interview last week, he stated that Bitzlato will resume operations from Russia. He now assures that the possibility of a Russian criminal case would not derail his ambitions.