Alexei Bilyuchenko – a computer programmer who was allegedly involved in the fall of the ill-fated cryptocurrency exchange Wex in 2018 – says he was tricked into handing over all the exchange’s assets and tokens to fraudsters, which set off the platform’s inherent collapse.
Bilyuchenko Comes Forward with a Strange Story
At the time of writing, it is believed that the exchange lost as much as half-a-billion in assorted crypto funds.
Bilyuchenko shares ties with Alexander Vinnik, the reported co-creator of cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e, which fell apart last year after Vinnik was arrested on charges of money laundering, fraud and conspiracy. Both Bilyuchenko and Vinnik had worked together making BTC-e what it was; the third-largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world in 2016, according to some industry experts.
However, FBI agents were quick to target the exchange, claiming that it was hiding several stolen funds from Mt. Gox, the cryptocurrency exchange that collapsed in 2014 in Japan. The trading platform recorded losses of more than $400 million in BTC funds, and authorities arrested Vinnik in front of his wife and children on a beach while they were on holiday in Greece.
While he may not have been working on his tan at the same time, Bilyuchenko was on vacation with Vinnik. He later got a call from Vinnik’s mother, who explained what had happened. Bilyuchenko’s concern was through the roof. He destroyed his laptop and threw it into the nearby sea, then took the next flight home to Moscow.
Back home, Bilyuchenko needed a job. As the BTC-e website had been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the computer programmer decided that a new exchange was necessary and created Wex. However, things were different this time in that he was all alone, and he needed a financial backer to get things off the ground.
It was here where he met Russian billionaire Konstantin Malofeyev, who later invited him to several meetings at his offices in Moscow. Malofeyev had allegedly made his fortune through investment banking and has ties to the Kremlin, though at press time, he has been sanctioned by both the United States and the European Union for potentially providing funds to rebel fighters in the Ukraine.
Wex Has a Shady History
By the end of 2018, Wex vanished, and the money it held – approximately $450 million in assorted crypto funds – disappeared with it. Bilychenko claims he lost control of the exchange several months before it ceased operations and says that Malofeyev tricked him into moving all the funds into a special FSB account, the FSB being a security agency in Russia.
He was approached by guards of the alleged organization one night and kept under strict watch. Since moving the funds, Bilychenko has gone to the police with what he knows and is under surveillance by law enforcement officials.