The case revolved around the defendant’s actions, which involved receiving funds in the form of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin through online transactions.
In a recent legal development in the Ryazan region of Russia, a man has been sentenced to 11.5 years behind bars for engaging in drug trafficking and laundering illicit proceeds using Bitcoins on an exceptionally large scale.
The Ryazan Regional Court delivered the verdict, marking a significant turn of events in a case that had seen an initial acquittal overturned by the Supreme Court in June 2023.
The defendant, hailing from the Klepikovsky district of the Ryazan region, was found guilty of money laundering, specifically under clause “b,” part 4 of article 174.1 (PDF) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which pertains to money laundering involving funds acquired through criminal activities.
According to a press release from the Prosecutor’s Office of the Ryazan region, the case revolved around the defendant’s actions, which involved receiving funds in the form of the virtual cryptocurrency Bitcoin through online transactions. These funds were determined to be equivalent to at least 8,240,278 rubles and 69 kopecks ($85,000). The prosecution argued that this money represented compensation for the illegal and large-scale production of narcotic drugs.
To further obscure the origins of these illicit earnings, the defendant engaged in a series of financial transactions designed to give the appearance of legitimate ownership of these funds.
Notably, the Ryazan Regional Court initially acquitted the accused, but this decision was subsequently overturned on June 8, 2023, following a proposal by the Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation I.V. Tkachev. This reversal paved the way for the recent sentencing.
The prosecutor’s office asserted that the defendant’s actions constituted a significant case of money laundering, disagreeing with the regional court’s earlier interpretation. Consequently, the court handed down a sentence of 11 years and 6 months imprisonment. The defendant will serve this term in a high-security correctional colony.
While Russia has faced criticism for hosting ransomware gangs and other cybercriminals, it’s worth noting that the country has taken action against such malicious actors in the past. In January 2022, Russia apprehended 14 individuals who were alleged members of the notorious Revil ransomware gang, a group known for targeting high-profile entities worldwide including the Kaseya attack.