The former owner of the bankrupt WEX crypto exchange, Alexei Bilyuchenko, made a deal with the investigation and began to pay compensation to the nominal owner of the exchange, former DPR fighter Dmitry Khavchenko. At the same time, the ultimate beneficiary is the “Orthodox oligarch”, the owner of the Tsargrad group of companies, Konstantin Malofeev, who is under sanctions. He could also have been directly involved in the investigation and closure of WEX when he tried to take full control over it.
The fact that Bilyuchenko concluded a pre-trial agreement with the investigation was reported by the We Can Explain Telegram channel, citing a source familiar with the details of the case. According to him, Bilyuchenko, according to the agreement, must transfer almost 4 billion rubles to the owner of the exchange. The money will go to Khavchenko, who, according to RBC, works for Malofeev, the ultimate beneficiary of this deal. At the same time, the affected depositors of the crypto exchange turned out to be witnesses in the case, and Khavchenko and Malofeev were the only victims.
“This is clearly not the whole amount. Judging by the scraps of information that reach us, Bilyuchenko is being swindled for money, ”We Can Explain” quotes a member of the initiative group of affected investors. According to him, the ex-owner of WEX, with the first payments, “opened the cache”, the scale of which showed that it is possible to “fuck” from him several times more than prescribed in the pre-trial agreement. Experienced investors understand that Malofeev will “unequivocally receive” the money, but they do not expect him to share it with WEX clients, the source of the Telegram channel says.
Bilyuchenko’s lawyer Igor Shtang at first refused to comment on the deal “We can explain”, but a week later he conveyed his client’s refusal, saying that he did not deny, but did not confirm the payments.
WEX was once a legend in the Russian crypto business. On her example, you can see how high the interest in cryptocurrencies is shown by governments, unscrupulous entrepreneurs and criminal groups. I remember WEX as a global scandal.
It all started with the FBI, whose attention was attracted in 2017 by WEX, which then existed under the name BTC-e. The US authorities then confiscated the exchange’s domain, fined it $110 million, and seized the cash flows flowing to the exchange through Mayzus Financial Services Ltd. The next round was the arrest in 2017 of Russian Alexander Vinnik in Greece. The American authorities accused him of laundering money for $ 4 billion. Russia joined the game, which joined the fight for the extradition of Vinnik. The United States won, and Vinnik, after five years, during which his wife died of cancer, and the lawyer died by falling down the stairs, was sent to San Francisco.
However, this did not prevent the exchange from quickly recovering, restarting on a different domain under the name WEX. The new owners, according to the Russian Air Force Service, were Vasiliev and Bilyuchenko. In the summer of 2017, WEX took over the debt obligations of BTC-e and paid 20% of the total amount by April 2018.
At the same time, a fighter from the DPR came on stage with Malofeev behind his back. Khavchenko in July 2018 concludes an agreement of intent with Vasiliev for the sale of the exchange. Later, a fighter from the DPR makes out to his daughter Daria the official operator of the exchange – Singapore’s World Exchange Services.
A month later, the exchange went bankrupt and suspended work. The victims calculated that the damage exceeded $400 million, and they personally attribute the withdrawal of $200 million to Vasilyev.
In November 2019, the BBC Russian Service reported that Malofeev was involved in the purchase of WEX and the further withdrawal of funds from it. The publication made this conclusion based on a dialogue from a two-hour audio recording between allegedly Malofeev and Bilyuchenko. The entry often mentions a certain “Anton”, to whom Bilyuchenko was supposed to give “cold wallets” with WEX crypto assets. The speech, according to the publication, was about Anton Nemkin, a former FSB officer and business partner of the Moscow IT entrepreneur Yevgeny Zhulanov, who previously owned the mobile content provider Nikita with Malofeev. In the end, Bilyuchenko, at the request of Nemkin, transferred all the cryptocurrency from the balance of the exchange to new wallets. We are talking about 30 thousand bitcoins and 700 thousand “litecoins”. At mid-May 2018 exchange rates, they were worth approximately $350 million.
Mining in response to “duty”
Despite the faded conflict, the victims were still waiting for their money. Some of them acted more decisively. In 2019-2020, a wave of “mining” of schools, courts, shopping centers, kindergartens and airports swept across Russia. The institutions received anonymous letters claiming that the bombs would continue to be “planted” until “Malofeev repays the debt of 120 bitcoins stolen from the WEX exchange.” The entrepreneur himself denied any involvement in the disappearance of money from WEX and even filed a complaint with the FSB.
In March last year, Tsargrad, controlled by Malofeev, decided to present his version of the events with the stock exchange and the subsequent “mining”. According to the publication, the main antagonist of the situation is Bilyuchenko, and “telephone terrorism” stopped exactly at the moment “when at the very beginning of the special operation of our troops in Ukraine “Caliber” the 72nd center of information and psychological operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was destroyed.”
Even if it was so, in January 2022, the mining still continued. But this time they were sent on behalf of Indefibank CEO Sergey Mendeleev. According to the businessman, this is due to his ongoing investigations into WEX. In May of the same year, Mendeleev received a letter from unknown persons demanding monthly payments in the decentralized Monero cryptocurrency. The postscript of the received message is curious in this event. “Do not believe Malofey, I (I don’t know) whom he planted there, bombed and defeated. He said that mining would not stop until the cue ball was returned, ”the author wrote (spelling saved).
But now Malofeev, who fell under US sanctions back in 2014, has other problems: the American authorities allowed the Ministry of Justice to confiscate $ 5.4 million from his account, which they plan to use for the restoration of Ukraine. This decision set a precedent in American law.
Malofeev was probably not chosen by chance as a “victim” of the legal experiment: last April, US Attorney General Marrick Garland accused him of trying to circumvent sanctions. Moreover, the authorities also intercepted “millions of dollars” that Malofeev was supposed to receive from an unnamed US financial institution. This appears to have been the last straw in a bowl of patience: in December, prosecutors, according to Reuters, said they had the right to confiscate money from Malofeev’s Denver Sunflow Bank account because he “tried to transfer it to a business partner in violation of US sanctions.” At the same time, Malofeev himself did not challenge the decision.