Police in Romania have detained the founder and CEO of Coinflux, one of the country’s major cryptocurrency exchanges. Vlad Nistor has been arrested on a warrant issued by U.S. authorities accusing him of a number of crimes, including the defrauding of American citizens. A court in Bucharest is currently reviewing the extradition request.
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The 29-year-old businessman was apprehended by Romanian policemen and prosecutors earlier this week at his home and office in the city of Cluj. The arrest was conducted in the presence of four U.S. law enforcement agents, local media reported.
According to the publications, Nistor is now awaiting a decision by the Bucharest Court of Appeal regarding his extradition to the United States. In its request, the U.S. Justice Department has accused him of running a fraud scheme, committing computer fraud, leading an organized crime group and money laundering.
Coinflux is one of the largest digital asset trading platforms in Romania. Nistor, a graduate of Brunel University in the U.K., established the bitcoin exchange in December of 2015. He has been described as a professional with seven years of experience in the financial sector, including pension funds where he managed savings worth millions of euros.
According to local news outlet Ştiri de Cluj, the company’s turnover in 2017 was €3.25 million ($3.68 million). Its website claims that the platform has, so far, exchanged over €201 million worth of cryptocurrencies in more than 203,000 transactions for over 19,000 traders.
Coinflux offers its users the opportunity to buy and sell major cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin core (BTC), ethereum (ETH), litecoin (LTC) and ripple (XRP). It accepts payments in Romanian leu, euro and supports Sepa transfers. Trading is currently disabled, however. In a blog post, the exchange said its bank accounts have been frozen and explained:
Due to a recently started, unexpected investigation, we are in the unpleasant situation of temporarily stopping any digital currency exchanges … We are doing all possible efforts, along with our legal advisers, to make sure everyone who had money deposited in Coinflux wallets gets it back.
The platform’s team further noted that, due to the investigation, they have been unable to send the announcement through the usual communication channels — via email and by publishing it on the website. “Our expectation is that we will gain back control within the next days,” they added.
Vlad Nistor Released, Expected to Appeal His Extradition
According to the latest information on the case, the judges from the Bucharest Court of Appeal disagreed with Nistor’s arrest. Romanian media reported that the entrepreneur was released before the weekend but placed under judicial control for a period of 30 days.
Coinflux’s chief executive is not allowed to leave Cluj and the magistrates have banned him from conducting any financial transactions that involve digital assets. No decision has been taken yet regarding the U.S. extradition request and Nistor has until Dec. 20 to submit an appeal against it.
His case is not the first of this kind in Europe in the past few years. In the summer of 2017, Greek police arrested the suspected operator of the infamous BTC-e exchange, Alexander Vinnik, in Thessaloniki on a warrant from authorities in the U.S. He is accused of laundering billions of dollars through the now-defunct crypto trading platform, including bitcoins stolen in the Mt Gox hack.
Vinnik is also wanted by his native Russia and France for other crimes. However, a lawsuit against him filed in Cyprus has been dropped, as news.Bitcoin.com reported. The Russian recently announced through his defense team his decision to go on a hunger strike in protest against his treatment by the Greek judiciary.
What do you think of Vlad Nistor’s arrest in Romania? Share your thoughts on his case in the comments section below.
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Coinflux, and Vlad Nistor (Twitter).
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