Russian businessman extradited to US after French extradition

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Russian businessman extradited to US after French extradition

A Russian entrepreneur accused by the US of laundering billions of dollars has been handed over to American custody by Greece, days after Athens secured his extradition from France. Aleksandr Vinnik's family said on Friday that he had been taken overnight on a private jet to Boston and then moved to San Francisco after making a phone call to them.

The family was cited by the RIA Novosti news agency as saying it was like an abduction.

The French authorities allowed Greece to take custody of Vinnik earlier in the week. His French lawyer, Frederic Belo, suggested that the extradition was a deceptive maneuver that would be followed by his transfer to the US.

Vinnik was arrested in Greece in 2017 at the request of the US government, who accused him of using the now defunct BTC-e criptocurrency trading platform to launder between $4 billion and $9 billion.

France had its own money laundering case against Vinnik and secured his transfer from Greece in 2019. He was on trial and sentenced to five years in jail.

The US retracted its request to have Vinnik extradited from France last month, which made his defense team suspect that American authorities had opted for a roundabout way to get him.

Russia wants Vinnik to stand trial for allegedly illegally obtaining 750 million rubles $12.2 million through computer information fraud and stealing 600,000 rubles $9,780. Vinnik's lawyer said he would prefer to face justice in his home country to be closer to his family.

The businessman denied any wrongdoing, saying that the American charges against him were baseless. He faces up to 55 years in prison in the US if convicted.