Due to efforts of former clients of the Russian bitcoin exchange WEX, the criminal investigation of alleged fraud was handled to the central investigation department in Moscow. Ex-users also managed to find worth approximately $250 million in crypto withdrawn from WEX.
The criminal investigation into allegedly fraudulent activities of the currently defunct WEX bitcoin exchange was handled to the central Investigative Department under the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Moscow. It was initially opened in 2018 in Russian region of Chuvashia after claims from several former clients of the trading platform. Now the case will be investigated by the 3rd Department for Organized Crime and Especially Important Cases.
The initiative group of former WEX clients conducted their own audit of the exchange's transactions and managed to find more than $250 million of stolen cryptocurrencies. They also identify other crypto exchanges through which accounts these funds were laundered. The information was passed on to the investigation team and officially attached to the materials of the criminal case.
Coordinators of the initiative group urge other affected clients of the defunct WEX exchange to join their collective claims.
In the future, the initiative group expects to draw up a collective civil claim and refer the case to the court.
WEX was launched in the fall of 2017 and served as an heiress of the BTC-e crypto exchange, which closed in 2017, whose servers were confiscated by the FBI. BTC-e users were promised to receive reimbursement from WEX of their funds deposited on the accounts of BTC-e. The official operator of WEX was the Singapore-based company World Exchange Services. Its sole founder was Dmitry Vasiliev, a 31-year-old native of Minsk.
BTC-e, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the Russian-speaking segment and one of the ten largest exchange platforms in the world, ceased operations on July 25, 2017. This was due to the fact that the exchange servers were arrested at the request of the FBI. Simultaneously, BTC-e supposed administrator, Russian citizen Alexander Vinnik, was arrested in Greece, accused of money laundering, obtained by criminal means, totaling $4 billion.
In 2019, the BBC published an investigation in which they named one of the owners of BTC-e, Alexei Bilyuchenko.
According to the BBC's investigation, in August 2017, Dmitry Vasiliev got in touch with Bilyuchenko. Vasiliev was a client of BTC-e who traded in the interests of Chinese investors. He offered Bilyuchenko to restart BTC-e under the new WEX brand. Vasiliev became the owner of the official legal entity of the new exchange.