The owner of RGCoins, a Bulgarian crypto exchange firm, is to be extradited to the US following a ruling by the court of appeal. The cryptocurrency exchange firm, whose operations targeted clients from Eastern-European countries, was shut down shortly after the court of appeal confirmed the extradition decision.
Rosen Yosifov is facing extradition to the US following a formal request by US authorities. The request was based on a case against 14 Romanian citizens charged with defrauding US citizens. According to the extradition request, one of the citizens was a client of Yosifov’s exchange. The request made allegations against Yosifov but offered no evidence as proof of his involvement with the Romanian citizen.
The US authorities allege that Yosifov was part of an organized crime group. According to the Kentucky Attorney General, the group of 14 Romanian citizens defrauded US citizens through online auctions. The group posted fake items for sale; after the auction, buyers of the goods never received them, and they were not refunded. After the sale, the group used the proceeds to purchase bitcoin in the US. After the bitcoin purchase, allegedly, one of the Romanians exchanged his bitcoin back to cash through Yosifov’s crypto exchange.
On receiving the extradition request, Bulgarian authorities raided Yosifov’s residence on the 11th of December without an arrest or search warrant. The police searched his home and seized all computers, mobile devices, and cash that they found in the house. They then arrested Yusifov and went with him to the RGCoins offices where they seized all the firm’s assets including clients’ and employees’ money.
After the arrest, Yosifov was detained without bail as he waited for the extradition hearing. On the 18th of December, the extradition request was approved by the Sofia City Court, which did not take into consideration the lack of proof tying Yusifov to the Romanians. The court of appeal later confirmed the extradition on January 24. Yusifov remains in custody as he awaits extradition to the US on an undisclosed date.
Yosifov’s extradition case closely follows the extradition of the CoinFlux CEO from Romania to the US. CoinFlux CEO Vlad Nistor was extradited on the request of US authorities who alleged that Nistor was involved in money laundering and fraud against US citizens. According to the extradition request, Nistor facilitated the fraudulent activities of an organized crime group made up of Romanians. Nistor allegedly allowed the group to buy bitcoin through CoinFlux using money obtained fraudulently from US citizens. After purchasing the bitcoin, the group then reportedly converted it to Romanian currency and deposited the money into Romanian bank accounts.
Nistor’s extradition was approved despite his lawyer’s arguments that tried to prove he was not involved with the Romanian group. Anatol Panzaru, Nistor’s lawyer, argued that since CoinFlux is a cryptocurrency exchange firm that exchanges fiat into cryptocurrencies and vice versa, there is no way Nistor would know whether money is a proceed of crime or not. Anatol also argued that the offenses levied against Nistor by the US authorities had no correspondence in the Romanian Law and as such were in breach of the treaty between Romania and the US. Despite all the arguments made by Nistor’s lawyer in the Bucharest Court of Appeal, the Romanian Supreme Court upheld the decision to extradite him to the US.
Like Yosifov, Nistor was arrested on request of US authorities on December 12. Nistor’s arrest was, however, unusual as it involved four secret service agents accompanied by Romanian officers. The arrest was followed by a raid on CoinFlux offices that resulted in the seizure of various electronic devices.