Published: Mon, July 16, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Russian Federation summons Greek ambassador over expulsion of its diplomats

Russian Federation summons Greek ambassador over expulsion of its diplomats

It accused the United States of being "behind the anti-Russian decision of the Greek government which was timed to coincide with the opening of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit" on Wednesday. The extradition is somewhat surprising as, previous to this move, the Greek Supreme Court had approved his extradition to the stand trial.

The court in Thessaloniki, 500 kilometers north of Athens, on July 13 ruled in favor of France's request to take custody of bitcoin fraud suspect Aleksandr Vinnik, 38, who was arrested in Greece previous year on a USA -issued warrant.

France sought Vinnik to face charges for money laundering, membership in a criminal organization and extortion. Winnick would remain under arrest in Greece. French police claim Vinnik laundered 133 million euros worth $155 million using 20,643 bitcoins.

On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested that Moscow could expel an equal number of Greek diplomats. The Russian Prosecutor General's Office also requested Vinnik's extradition as a criminal case had been opened against him in Russia into large-scale fraud. The second request has raised the amount of money involved in the fraud to 750 rubles, worth $12 million.

"Several days after taking an unfriendly decision to expel Russian diplomats and to deny entry to several Russian citizens, they have adopted a decision to extradite Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik to France", the ministry said in a statement issued Friday.

There was no immediate comment on the reports from Greek authorities.

Vinnik's lawyer Spyrliadis assured Russian BBC that the latest extradition to France would lead to a further extradition to the US, because "otherwise the USA can not get him, since the extradition process was blocked". Vinnik and his lawyers believe he should be tried in Russian Federation. These developments have made this case into something of a tug of war between Russia, France, and the US, who are all vying for him to face charges in their jurisdictions. France was one of the main countries who indicted Alexander Vinnik, calling him the spearhead of the now-defunct BTC-e.

Police dismantled BtC-e's domain after Vinnik was arrested.

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