Pavel Lerner, an employee of EXMO cryptocurrency exchange, had to pay a ransom amounting to more than $2 million for his release. According to him, he plans to leave Ukraine and close the office in Kiev.

Pavel Lerner, blockchain analyst and allegedly CEO of EXMO exchange, who was abducted on 26 December in Kiev and released by criminals two days later, was forced to pay 160 bitcoins. At the current exchange rate, it is more than $2.2 million. The amount of the ransom was disclosed by sources familiar with the materials of the criminal case, which was instituted by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, the news portal Strana reports.

"Lerner was interviewed and said that he was forced to transfer 160 bitcoins to the kidnappers' purse. In total, we are talking about a sum equivalent of more than $2 million. This information is included in the evidential materials," the source said.

Earlier, the Ukranian parliamentarian and former adviser to the head of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry Anton Gerashchenko said that Lerner had to pay $1 million in bitcoins. Lerner himself neither confirms nor refutes the information about the amount of the ransom.

Lerner was abducted on 26 December near his office in Kiev. Six unknown men with assault rifles and in balaclavas forced him to sit in their Mercedes-Benz Vito car.

"I was kidnapped by unknown people after I got out of the car driven by the man I know. The unknown men called themselves representatives of the special services; I could not see their faces. After the kidnapping, I was kept in a basement room, where I was under psychological pressure. My freedom was completely limited, and my hands were handcuffed," Lerner said.

Lerner was born in the Russian city of Kursk; he graduated from the Kursk State University, where he studied physics and computer sciences. In 2014, Lerner emigrated to Spain. Also he is said to have a residence permit of Poland. In Ukraine, he cooperated with start-ups associated with mining, cryptocurrencies, and blockchain.

Although the EXMO exchange itself calls Lerner "the leading analyst," in social networks, in particular on LinkedIn, he indicated his job position as executive director of EXMO.

Due to the incident, Lerner said that in the near future he plans to leave Kiev and, in general, Ukraine.