Friday, December 29, 2017

Bitcoin Exchange Executive Kidnapped Near His Office

An executive of a UK-registered cryptocurrency exchange was kidnapped this week in Ukraine.

He was released after paying a ransom of more than $1m in bitcoins, according to Anton Gerashchenko an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, reports the Financial Times.

Pavel Lerner, who runs the Exmo exchange was kidnapped near his office in Kiev on Tuesday but
freed on Thursday, Gerashchenko said.

“He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting bitcoins,” Gerashchenko told the Financial Times, adding: “We have operative information that he paid more than $1m worth of bitcoins.”

He said Lerner was held for one and a half days, “then released in a state of shock. ... He got very lucky that he remained alive."

The kidnapping of Lerner, a Russian citizen, was first reported on Tuesday by local Ukranian media, which said witnesses had seen him being bundled into a black Mercedes-Benz by people wearing dark clothes and balaclavas.

Although Lerner’s LinkedIn profile describes him as CEO, Exmo reportedly told the BBC he was its analytics manager.

Separately (?) on Thursday, Exmo said on Twitter that it had been hit by a cyber attack, which meant its website was down temporarily.

According to FT,  while Exmo is not in the top handful of exchanges by market share, it has some 94,000 active traders and hosted trading of some $125m worth of bitcoin over the past 24 hours.


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