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Estonian court blocks extradition of Hashflare founders to U.S.

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TL;DR

  • The Tallinn Circuit Court in Estonia overturned the extradition of Hashflare co-founders Ivan Turogin and Sergei Potapenko to the U.S., where they face fraud and money laundering charges.
  • The court cited failures in considering detention conditions in the U.S. and procedural irregularities in the extradition process as reasons for its decision.

The Tallinn Circuit Court in Estonia has overturned previous rulings that approved the extradition of Ivan Turogin and Sergei Potapenko, co-founders of the cryptocurrency mining service Hashflare, to the United States. This decision, announced on November 29, challenges the U.S. authorities’ efforts to prosecute the duo for their alleged involvement in a substantial fraud and money laundering operation.

The case against Hashflare

Turogin and Potapenko were implicated in a significant cryptocurrency scheme through their company, Hashflare, which operated between 2015 and 2019. The U.S. Justice Department has accused Hashflare of functioning as a Ponzi scheme, alleging that it attracted hundreds of thousands of victims who collectively invested around $575 million. The company purported to offer leasing of hashing power for crypto mining and also promoted investments in a fictitious bank. If found guilty in the U.S., the co-founders could face up to 20 years in prison for each of the 18 counts of fraud and money laundering they are charged with.

The case gained momentum in November 2022 when a U.S. grand jury issued an indictment against the Estonian nationals. The Estonian government initially sanctioned their extradition in September following an extensive investigation, which the BBC reported as one of the largest fraud cases in Estonia’s history. However, the recent court decision has put a halt to these extradition plans.

Legal grounds for overturning extradition

The Tallinn Circuit Court’s decision was predicated on several grounds. Primarily, the court found that the Estonian government failed to adequately consider the conditions of detention that Turogin and Potapenko would face in the U.S. Moreover, the court highlighted procedural irregularities in the extradition orders and cited practices from the European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights.

In response to the court’s ruling, the Estonian government has been ordered to reimburse over 100,000 euros to Turogin, Potapenko, and their families, representing a significant financial implication. This ruling can still be contested until December 11.

This decision not only impacts the immediate future of Turogin and Potapenko but also underscores the complex legal landscape surrounding cryptocurrency and extradition laws. The case of Hashflare has been closely watched by the crypto community, reflecting the growing scrutiny of crypto businesses by international law enforcement agencies.

The Estonian court’s ruling is a reminder of the intricate balance between national jurisdiction and international legal cooperation, especially in cases involving emerging technologies like cryptocurrency. It also highlights the increasing need for clear regulatory frameworks to govern the crypto industry.

As the situation develops, the focus will likely shift to the potential appeal against this decision and the subsequent actions of the U.S. Justice Department. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for how international cryptocurrency fraud cases are handled in the future.

For the victims who invested in Hashflare, this legal twist adds another layer of complexity to their pursuit of justice. It underscores the challenges investors face in recovering losses from fraudulent crypto schemes, which often span multiple jurisdictions with varying legal standards.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Damilola Lawrence

Damilola is a crypto enthusiast, content writer, and journalist. When he is not writing, he spends most of his time reading and keeping tabs on exciting projects in the blockchain space. He also studies the ramifications of Web3 and blockchain development to have a stake in the future economy.

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