BBC has revealed that the Federal Security Service (Russia’s Intelligence Agency) could be the brains behind the sudden disappearance of over $450 million worth of cryptocurrency from an online exchange platform. The investigations conducted by BBC linked Russia’s security service to incident that ran Wex (an online Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange platform) out of business in 2018.
A statement made by one of the site’s co-founders to Russia BBC News revealed that some FSB personnel forced him to give out information about customer’s digital wallets in 2018. The information has the capacity to give them full access to the over $450 cryptocurrency saved by customers on the platform at that time.
Wex was an online cryptocurrency and Bitcoin exchanging platform launched in 2017 to replace BTC-e, another crypto exchange platform that was shut down by FBI after being linked to a money laundering case that involved $4 billion in dirty bitcoins from a customer.
The reports said that the Russian cyber espionage group (Fancy Bear), the group directly behind the hacking of the Democrat Party server during the 2016 presidential election used BTC-e. Investigations also reveal that Wex has links with top military figures from Russia-backed Donetsk People’s republic.
According to a 2018 PwC report,
“WEX is most notably known for its alleged involvement in the laundering of some $4 billion, transferring of funds to facilitate operations of the threat actor tracked by PwC as Blue Athena, and being responsible for cashing out 95% of all ransomware payments made since 2014.”
BBC conducted an underground investigation and obtained audio recordings that contain discussions by certain individuals about the Wex platform. The audio revealed that Konstantin Malofeev (a pro-Kremlin Russian Billion currently under US sanctions for bankrolling Moscow-backed forces in Eastern Ukraine) made audacious statements about the importance of bringing Wex under the close watch of the FSB
According to the findings, for three consecutive days in the month of April, 2018, Alex Bilyuchenko, the Russian founder of BTC-e/Wex was invited to the FSB office in Central Moscow and to his amazement was given flash disks containing details on how to access the online wallets of customers on the Wex platform containing over $450 million worth of cryptocurrencies.
Bilyuchenko further revealed to BBC that he was reliably informed that that the customers’ money stored in their Wex account will be transferred to FSB Russia fund. Exactly three months after he handed over the information to FSB, they froze all the customer withdrawals and eventually shut down the exchange completely at the end of 2018. The investigation stated that the former CEO of Wex was arrested earlier this year in Italy.
Pavel Durov the founder of Telegram who is alleged to be one of the customers who lost bitcoins in the last Wex scandal is currently making moves to lauch his own cryptocurrency.