Russian national suspected of laundering ransomware payments in cryptocurrency on behalf of cybercriminals targeting hospitals has been extradited to the U.S. by the Netherlands. The man was allegedly involved in the criminal activity for a period of three years before his arrest in Amsterdam last November.
Alleged Russian Money Launderer Handed Over to U.S. Custody by Dutch Authorities
Denis Dubnikov, a 29-year-old Russian citizen, has been extradited this week from the Netherlands to the United States, where he is to face charges of money laundering in the District of Oregon, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.
Dubnikov made his initial appearance in federal court on Wednesday and a five-day jury trial has been scheduled to begin on Oct. 4. In August, a federal grand jury in Portland charged him for his role in an international crypto money laundering conspiracy.
According to the indictment, the Russian and his accomplices have knowingly and intentionally laundered the proceeds of ransomware attacks on individuals and organizations, throughout the United States and in other countries, between at least August 2018 and August 2021.
The perpetrators specifically laundered ransom payments extracted from victims of Ryuk ransomware attacks. First identified four years ago, Ryuk is a type of software that encrypts files and attempts to delete system backups, which has been linked to a Russian ransomware group. Hospitals and healthcare providers in the U.S. have become its victims in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In July 2019, Dubnikov allegedly laundered more than $400,000 in Ryuk ransom proceeds, the DOJ said in a statement. Those involved in the conspiracy laundered at least $70 million in total. If convicted, the Russian may get a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Denis Dubnikov was detained in Amsterdam on Nov. 1, 2021. Speaking to Russian media at the time, his lawyer Arkady Bukh alleged that he was “practically kidnapped” by U.S. law enforcement in Mexico before being transferred to Europe.
The co-founder of the coin trading platforms Coyote Crypto and Eggchange was first held at the airport in Mexico City, where he arrived on vacation, and then put on a flight to the Netherlands where he was arrested by Dutch authorities.
Dubnikov’s extradition follows a similar development in the case of Alexander Vinnik, the alleged operator of the infamous cryptocurrency exchange BTC-e. Vinnik was apprehended in the summer of 2017 in the Greek city of Thessaloniki where he arrived on a summer holiday with his family. He was arrested on a warrant from the U.S. which accuses him of laundering at least $4 billion through the now-defunct crypto trading platform.
The Russian IT specialist was first handed over to the French judiciary which sentenced him to five years in prison for money laundering. After he served his term in France, Vinnik was returned to Greece and extradited to the U.S. The hasty transfer angered his lawyers who think he will become a “hostage” of the current geopolitical tensions surrounding the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Moscow accused Washington of conducting a “real hunt for Russian citizens.”