Ex-CEO Of Defunct Crypto Exchange WEX Arrested In Italy


The former CEO of the now defunct crypto exchange WEX, Dmitri Vasilev was arrested on Friday in Italy, as reported by BBC’s Russian Service. 

The publication cites Vasilev’s acquaintance and two anonymous investorsin WEX, though Dmitri Gurin, the attaché of the Russian embassy in Italy declined to provide any details and neither did the Italian financial police (Guardia de Finanza).

Frozen Funds

Launched in 2017, WEX was a successor of BTC-e, also a defunct exchange. The alleged operator of BTC-e, Alexander Vinnik was arrested in 2017 in Greece and is facing extradition to the U.S., France or Russia.  Vasilev launched WEX and the firm operated for a year, until it froze withdrawals in July 2018. The exchange has since been dormant. 

Things escalated when Vasilev tried to sell WEX to Dmitri Khavchenko, a militia fighter in the war in Eastern Ukraine. Khavchenko stated at the time that WEX’s admin (who, like the rest of the support team, was anonymous) didn’t like him as the new owner and disappeared with the keys.

He further added that the purchase deal was complete. Later Khavchenko changed the official owner of the Singapore-registered exchange to his daughter, Daria. During the summer and fall of 2018, almost $19 million worth of ether were moved from the exchange’s cold wallets to the popular crypto exchange Binance.

Binance CEO CZ said in a Tweet that WEX’s accounts on Binance had been frozen. SInce then the fate of the said funds has been unclear. 

Regulator’s Intervention

Mostly hailing from Russia and neighboring countries, Wex’s users start to file police reports in the fall of 2018. As per BBC, the Kazakhstan national police initiated a  criminal investigation against Vasilev based on one such report. The police of the Russian city of Tolyatti also started a separate preliminary investigation around the same time. 

An open letter from the users to Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has demanded for justice and their money back, the Russian crypto media site Forklog reported in April.

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