The former CEO the now defunct crypto exchange WEX, was arrested Friday in Italy, the BBC’s Russian Service reported. While no official statement has been disclosed to date, BBC Russia disclosed the arrest on July 19. In the report, the publication cited an unnamed friend of Vasilev and two anonymous WEX investors. The reason for detention remains unclear.
Queries sent to the Russian embassy in Italy and to the Guardia de Finanza (Italy’s financial law enforcement agency) about the arrest have not been answered at the time of this writing.
In April 2019, Vasilyev became the subject of a criminal investigation by the police department in Kazakh city Almaty, as the alleged suspect was charged with defrauding a local investor in the amount of $20,000 through WEX exchange, as crypto media outlet Forklog reported. According to the report, the 32-year-old suspect was announced wanted under an international arrest warrant in the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
WEX was launched by Russian citizen Vasilev and operated for a year, until it froze withdrawals in July 2018 and hasn’t restored normal service ever since. The troubles started soon after Vasilev tried to sell WEX to Dmitri Khavchenko, a militia fighter in the war in Eastern Ukraine.
After WEX froze all withdrawals, users started filing reports with law enforcement. Police from the city of Tolyatti, as well as the Kazakhstan national police, began investing the exchange.
Law enforcement in Kazakhstan opened a criminal case against Vasilev back in April for allegedly stealing a user’s funds via the WEX platform.
A letter written by users to Vladimir Putin about the exchange was passed on to the Central Investigation Department of the Moscow Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
“WEX is most notably known for its alleged involvement in laundering of some $4 billion, transferring of funds to facilitate operations of the threat actor tracked by PwC as Blue Athena, and being responsible for cashing out 95 percent of all ransomware payments made since 2014.”
For his part, Vasiliev claims that he has had no involvement with WEX since its sale to Khavchenko.