Greece Backs Extradition Of Russian To U.S. Over Bitcoin Fraud

A Greek tribunal has approved a U.S. request for the extradition of a Russian cybercrime suspect, the second such order made against a Russian citizen by a European court this week.

Aleksandr Vinnik is escorted by police officers while leaving a court in Thessaloniki on September 29.

Aleksandr Vinnik is escorted by police officers while leaving a court in Thessaloniki on September 29.

A Greek tribunal has approved a U.S. request for the extradition of a Russian cybercrime suspect, the second such order made against a Russian citizen by a European court this week.

Both Moscow and Washington had been fighting over the extradition of Aleksandr Vinnik and other Russian citizens who have been caught up in a U.S. law enforcement dragnet targeting alleged cybercriminals around the world.

Russia has complained repeatedly about the detention of Russian citizens while traveling abroad, accusing U.S. officials of "kidnapping" them.

A three-judge court in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki ruled on October 4 that Vinnik, 37, should be sent to the United States, where authorities accuse him of running a multibillion-dollar digital money-laundering network.

Vinnik, who has denied the charges, was arrested while on vacation in Greece in July.Russia, which also requested Vinnik's extradition, reacted quickly to the Greek decision.

"We are categorically against the extradition of our nationals to foreign countries, in this case to the U.S.," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

Vinnik's lawyers were cited as saying he would not contest the Russian request, which will also be heard by a Greek court.

Other Arrests

A day earlier, a court in Spain authorized the extradition of Pyotr Levashov, who is accused by U.S. authorities of running a massive computer bot that sent tens of millions of spam e-mails over many years.

Levashov, 37, was arrested by Spanish police in Barcelona in April while he was vacationing with his family.

Russian news reports said Levashov's lawyers had three days to appeal the court decision.

Other Russians have been caught up in legal proceedings in European courts including Yevgeniy Nikulin, who is awaiting a decision by Czech justice officials on whether he will be sent to the United States or Russia to stand trial on similar computer-hacking charges.

Another Russian, Roman Seleznev, pleaded guilty earlier this month in U.S. court for participating in what U.S. authorities said was a cybertheft ring that allegedly stole over $50 million using hacked credit-card information. Seleznev was arrested in 2014 by U.S. agents as he tried to enter the Maldives on vacation.

The aggressive U.S. pursuit of hackers and alleged cybercriminals from Russia and elsewhere dates back several years.

Some of the hackers have been tied by U.S. intelligence to more politically motivated cybercrimes, possibly done at the behest of the Russian security agencies, such as the Federal Security Service (FSB).

Seleznev at one point bragged about his "protection" by the FSB's main cybercrime division, according to U.S. law enforcement documents filed in federal court.

Phillip Harkins loses record-breaking 14-year battle against extradition to US for murder

'I really don't understand how he was ever allowed to file that many appeals', says victim's mother Patricia Gallagher

Harkins has been fighting against his transfer to America to face the charge since 2003 Handout

Harkins has been fighting against his transfer to America to face the charge since 2003 Handout

A British man who is wanted for murder in the US, has lost his 14-year-long legal battle against extradition. Phillip Harkins, 38, has been fighting against a transfer to America to face the charge since 2003.

It is thought to have been Britain's longest-running extradition case.

But the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected his final appeal, saying his rights would not be breached if he was jailed without parole in Florida.

Mr Harkins, who is originally from Grenock in Inverclyde, was charged with the murder of 22-year-old Joshua Hayes, who was shot and killed during a drugs-related robbery in 1999. He denies being involved in the killing.

Released on bail in 2002, he returned to Scotland. But he was subsequently jailed for dangerous driving after killing a 62-year-old woman in a car crash in his hometown. 

US authorities then sought his extradition for the 1999 murder of Mr Hayes, beginning a lengthy legal battle which has twice been through the British courts and up to European Court. 

Responding to the judgement, Mr Hayes's mother Patricia Gallagher told BBC News: “I really don't understand how he was ever allowed to file that many appeals. That's way too many and he said he's a victim, and he's not.“

She said her son's death had been “real rough” on her grandchildren, who had been brought up without a father. “My Josh has two grandchildren that will never get to know him,” she said. “We keep Josh very much alive here. He'll always be carried in my heart and my head.”

Prior to the ruling, US prosecutors assured UK authorities they will not seek the death penalty for Harkins were he convicted, But his lawyers argued that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Strasbourg court previously ruled against Harkins, but he was allowed to make a second appeal in 2015. The Grand Chamber of the court said the course should not be opened again, meaning US authorities are free to go ahead with the transfer.

Ban Ki-sang: United States asks South Korea to arrest former UN chief Ban Ki-moon's brother

The US Government has asked South Korea to arrest a brother of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on charges that he engaged in a bribery scheme to carry out the sale of a Vietnamese building complex.

Ban Ki-moon's (pictured) brother has been charged in the US.

Ban Ki-moon's (pictured) brother has been charged in the US.

During a court hearing in federal court in Manhattan, Assistant US Attorney Daniel Noble said a request had been made for the arrest of Ban Ki-sang, who was an executive at South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises.

Mr Noble said the United States plans to seek his extradition, "but as of yet, he has not been apprehended."

Ban Ki-sang, who could not be reached for comment, was one of four people charged on January 10 in a case that has complicated his brother's expected run for president of South Korea following his recently-finished term at the UN.

The case has already resulted in the arrest of another of his relatives, Joo Hyun "Dennis" Bahn, a real estate broker living in New Jersey — he is Ban Ki-sang's son.

Ban Ki-moon issued an apology saying he hoped any cooperation between authorities in South Korea and the United States would be "strict and transparent".

"I have absolutely no knowledge of this case," Mr Ban said in a statement, adding he hoped authorities were able to clear up all suspicion among the South Korean public.

According to an indictment, amid a liquidity crisis at Keangnam, Ban Ki-sang arranged for it to hire his son to broker a refinancing on the Landmark 72 building complex in Hanoi, which cost more than $US1 billion ($1.3 billion) to construct.

Men accused of securing deals through 'connections'

The indictment said that in March 2013, Bahn through an acquaintance met Malcolm Harris, a self-described arts and fashion consultant and blogger who has also been charged in the case.

Prosecutors said Harris told Bahn he could help get a deal through his connections, which he said included members of a Middle Eastern royal family, and offered to arrange the Landmark 72's sale to a sovereign wealth fund by bribing an official.

In April 2014, Bahn and Ban Ki-sang agreed to pay an upfront $660,000 bribe and another $2.6 million upon the sale's closing to the official, prosecutors said.

However, prosecutors said Harris did not have any connection to the official, and after the men sent $660,000 to his company — Muse Creative Consulting LLC — to pay bribes as a middle man, he stole the funds.

He spent the money on airfares, hotels, lavish meals, furniture, rent for a Manhattan apartment and a six-month lease for a penthouse in the fashionable Brooklyn neighbourhood of Williamsburg, the indictment said.

Both Bahn, 38, and Harris, 52, have pleaded not guilty.

Reuters

US charges Tajeddine with violating terror-related sanctions

WASHINGTON: U.S. authorities arrested an alleged Hezbollah financier Friday on charges of violating U.S. terror-related sanctions, after he was apparently deported to the United States from Morocco.

Kassem Tajeddine was formally charged in U.S. federal court in Washington nearly eight years after the United States named him a "specially designated global terrorist" for allegedly proving tens of millions of dollars to Hezbollah.

He was charged with multiple counts of violating U.S. terrorism sanctions regulations as well as money laundering.

Kassim Tajideen. (Social Media)

Kassim Tajideen. (Social Media)

According to multiple media reports, Tajeddine was arrested on arrival in Casablanca on March 12 on a request by U.S. authorities.

He arrived in the United States early Friday, but the Justice Department would not confirm that he had been handed over to the United States by Morocco.

Tajeddine , 62, pleaded innocent to the charges, according to a Justice Department statement.

A commodities trader across the Middle East and Africa, Tajeddine was given the terror finance designation in May 2009, which carries sanctions that largely locked him out of global financial networks. The designation named him an "important financial contributor" to Hezbollah.

"Because of his support for Hezbollah ... the U.S. government imposed sanctions on Kassem Tajeddine in 2009 that barred him from doing business with U.S. individuals and companies," Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in a statement.

But the charges unveiled Friday did not accuse him of any recent provision of financial support to Hezbollah.

Instead, he was accused of restructuring his business organization after the 2009 designation in order to evade the sanctions and continue doing business with U.S. companies.

That included buying commodities from U.S. exporters and making wire transfers payments for them worth a total of $27 million.

The U.S. firms involved in those transactions were unaware they were involved with him, the charges said.

Writing about Tajeddine Thursday, Hanin Ghaddar and Sarah Feuer of the Washington Institute think tank said Tajeddine remained an important backer of Hezbollah.

"In addition to the revenues he secured for Hezbollah, his company Tajco has been involved in a number of residential projects located in strategic areas of Lebanon," they said.

Ghaddar and Feuer said that although Morocco would not confirm that Washington had asked for his arrest, "such cooperation would be in keeping with Morocco's emergence as a key counter-terrorism partner in recent years."

Kosovo man wanted by FBI may face extradition after accord with U.S

PRISTINA (Reuters) - Kosovo signed an extradition agreement with Washington on Tuesday, clearing the way for a man suspected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of being an Islamist militant to be sent to the United States.

Kosovo officials told Reuters that the first person who may be extradited is Bajram Asllani, who is listed on the FBI web site as a wanted person who “should be considered armed and dangerous”.

Bajram Asllani, 30, wanted by the FBI for allegedly conspiring to engage in violent jihad, stands in front of his house in Mitrovica in this November 19, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

Bajram Asllani, 30, wanted by the FBI for allegedly conspiring to engage in violent jihad, stands in front of his house in Mitrovica in this November 19, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Hazir Reka

In recent years Asllani, 35, has lived openly in the northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica. He is also on the Interpol wanted list.

“Until now, despite very close cooperation with the U.S. authorities in the field of security, the absence of this extradition agreement was a legal obstacle for a successful conclusion of cases,” Kosovo President Atifete Jahjaga said after signing the treaty with U.S. ambassador Greg Delawie.

In 2010, U.S. prosecutors in North Carolina unsealed a criminal complaint against Asllani, accusing him of providing material support to terrorism suspects and conspiring to kill and hurt people abroad.

He was accused of having ties and soliciting money from a group of men in North Carolina who were arrested in 2009 for an alleged plot to attack a U.S. Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia, according to U.S. prosecutors. Several of these defendants were later convicted of various charges.

The FBI web site said Asllani was an alleged co-conspirator with eight people in the United States “who were allegedly co-conspiring to engage in violent jihad, or holy war, and to raise money for mujihadeen, or warriors engaged in violent jihad.”

Asllani denies the charges.

European Union security officials, who maintain a presence in Kosovo, arrested Asllani in 2010, saying they would consider extraditing him to the United States, but he was soon released.

A panel of three European judges serving in Kosovo turned down a U.S. request to extradite him in 2010, saying there was no accord with the United States governing the extradition of Kosovo citizens and that Washington had failed to provide enough evidence.

“I personally have asked to be extradited to the United States because I am not afraid of U.S. justice, I believe in justice because I am innocent,” Asllani told local media at the time.

A Kosovo police official said that, apart from Asllani, three more Kosovars were wanted by U.S. authorities.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008 and has been recognized by over 100 states, including the United States.

US relentless in case involving illegal exports of components founds in bombs in Iraq

On April 4, 2016, Lim Yong Nam (also known as Steven Lim), a citizen of Singapore, was extradited from Indonesia to the US to stand trial on charges of taking part in a conspiracy involving the export of 6,000 radio frequency modules, from the US to Iran.

Steven Lam.

Steven Lam.

A radio frequency module is equipment used to transmit signals between two devices, and a classic example of a so-called dual-use item, which can be innocent, or can have military applications, such as use in an explosive device. In some cases, dual use items cannot be exported without permission from the Department of Commerce.

Overview of the case

Lim’s overall case is a layered one, the origin of which dates back to 2010. It was during this year that prosecutors in Washington, DC unsealed the superseding indictment which contained charges of conspiracy for the illegal export of goods to Iran, smuggling, conspiracy to defraud the United States, false statements to the US government, and obstruction of justice.

Lim was one of many defendants: (1) Hossein Larijani (Iranian National) and his associated companies Paya Electronics Complex (based in Iran), and Opto Electronics Pte., Ltd. (based in Singapore); (2) Wong Yuh Lan (Singapore National and agent of Opto Electronics); (3) Lim Kow Seng and Hia Soo Gan Benson (both Singapore Nationals) and their respective company Corezing International Pte Ltd. (based in Singapore); and (4) Lim Yong Nam’s corporate entity NEL Electronics Pte. Ltd., (based in Singapore).

The superseding indictment, which is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of criminal law and is not evidence of guilt, was replete with allegations of a network created by the defendants to export the radio frequency modules, which can have military application, to Iran, a country subject to sanctions.

The extradition was a lengthy process as Lim had fought the request and was subsequently detained in Indonesia since October 2014.

Showcase example of diverting military-capable materials to unauthorized end-user

The indictment says that between June 2007 and February 2008, Lim and the others purchased 5 shipments of radio frequency modules from a Minnesota-based company by falsifying documents that stated the devices would stay in Singapore for a telecommunications project. According to the indictment though, the modules would arrive in Singapore and then be forwarded to Iran by airfreight through third countries with the ultimate recipient being an Iranian national, Mr. Larijani, another defendant in this case. The government says that the defendants defrauded the US company and the government in a myriad of ways in an effort to circumvent the US sanctions laws and get these military-capable materials to their destination point in Iran.

Dual-use items

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the US Department of Commerce is responsible for regulating the export of so called dual-use items such as radio frequency modules, which can have both commercial and military applications. Dual use export licenses for these products are required in certain situations involving national security, foreign policy, nuclear non-proliferation, and other concerns. The license requirements are dependent upon an item’s technical characteristics, the destination, the end-use, and the end-user, and other activities of the end-user.

The list of dual-use technologies includes many products that appear innocent. A good example is carbon fibers, the materials of tennis rackets and golf clubs. Carbon fibers are on the dual use list because they are also ideal for the nose cones of intercontinental ballistic missiles, because they resist the heat of re-entry through the atmosphere.

In an effort to assist companies to comply with complex export rules involving dual use goods, BIS published a set of “best practices” in 2011. In particular, the document helps guard against the diversion of dual-use items shipped to a transshipment “hub,” or to any intermediate country before being shipped to the country of ultimate destination, which allegedly happened in the case of Mr. Lim.

Interagency cooperation

The ramifications of evading sanctions controls, and thus the importance of this case, cannot be understated. If the length of this investigation is any indicator, from the original indictment of Lim and others in 2010 to the final extradition of Lim in 2016, the government is relentless in their pursuit of prosecuting crimes that threaten national security. The premiere allegation in the indictment, that in 2008 and 2009 coalition forces found at least 16 of the ill-gotten modules in unexploded IEDs in Iraq, is the reason that the investigation was a top priority for the US government and required a coordinated effort. The prosecution is led by Assistant US Attorney Ari Redbord of the District of Columbia and Trial Attorney Julie Edelstein of the National Security Divisions Counterintelligence and Export Control Section. The investigation itself was conducted by multiple agencies such as Department of Justice’s ICE and FBI, and Department of Commerce’s BIS.

Status of the case

With regard to the status of this case, Lim has consistently professed his innocence from the protest of his extradition to his plea of not guilty in 2016; he has yet to have his day in court. He is due for a status conference in October 2016, which is a hearing to inform the court as to how the case is proceeding, what discovery has been conducted, any settlement negotiations, probable length of trial, etc.

On the other hand, Seng and Benson, who were extradited separately, had their initial court appearance in the US in December of 2012. They pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy to defraud the US and were sentenced on September 20, 2013, to 37 months and 34 months imprisonment.

The final alleged conspirator, Larijana is still at large.

Judgement reserved on extradition of Wicklow man linked to Silk Road website

A decision has been reserved by the Supreme Court in an appeal by a Wicklow man against an order for his extradition to the United States.

Gary-Davis190296695-1-1068x623.jpg

The man is alleged by US authorities to be linked to the Silk Road website which dealt with illegal drugs and hacking software. The appeal has been brought by Gary Davis (29) of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Co Wicklow who is wanted by US authorities to face trial on charges including conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

He opposes his extradition on grounds including that he suffers from both a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome. If convicted in the US Mr Davis could receive a life sentence. His extradition was ordered by the High Court last year and in March his appeal against that order was dismissed by the Court of Appeal

The Supreme Court agreed to hear Mr Davis’s appeal against the extradition order on the grounds its raises issues of public importance. He claims that if he is extradited he will be detained in an inhumane and degrading manner in a US detention centre and in breach of his rights under the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights to bodily integrity and his right to life.

In his appeal Mr Daviss, submitted the case raises issues including whether the State is constitutionally obliged to protect vulnerable persons suffering from mental illness who are the subject of an extradition request.

Cormac Ó Dúlacháin SC contended there is evidence that Mr Davis’s mental condition would deteriorate, including that he may become suicidal, if held at a US facility where he would have no assurances about what treatment would be available to him.

If detained in the US for a lengthy period Mr Davis, who has a high dependency on his family, would very limited access to his family members. Given his condition this would also have a detrimental effect on Mr Davis’s mental health counsel added.

The Attorney General argues there is nothing to prevent Mr Davis’s extradition to the US.Following the conclusion of submissions the five judge court comprised of Mr Justice Donal O’Donnell, Mr Justice William McKechnie, Mr Justice John MacMenamin, Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and Ms Justice Iseult O’Malley reserved its decision.

Mr Davis, accompanied to court by members from his family remains on bail pending the Supreme Court’s decision. The US authorities claim Mr Davis was an administrator of the Silk Road website using the pseudonym “Libertas between June 2013 and October 2013. Mr Davis had an "explicit knowledge of the items for sale on the website" they also allege.

The website is said to have facilitated the sale of illicit drugs including cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth and hacking software. Launched in 2011 it was run by American Ross William Ulbricht under the pseudonym ’Dread Pirate Roberts’ (DPR).

It offered anonymity to its users and trades were conducted in bitcoins. Ulbricht was arrested and charged following an investigation by the US authorities and subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. Mr Davis’s alleged involvement was identified from information extracted from Mr Ulbricht’s computers following his arrest by the FBI.

Man to be extradited over Silk Road website, has appeal refused

Asperger’s Syndrome means detention in US would be inhumane, counsel for Gary Davis says

Gary Davis (28) of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Co Wicklow, is wanted by US authorities to face trial on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, among other offences. Photograph: Collins

Gary Davis (28) of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Co Wicklow, is wanted by US authorities to face trial on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, among other offences. Photograph: Collins

A Wicklow man alleged to be an administrator of the Silk Road website, which dealt with illegal drugs and hacking software, has been put into custody ahead of his extradition to the United States.

Gary Davis (28) of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Co Wicklow, is wanted by US authorities to face trial on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

If convicted in the US Mr Davis could receive a life sentence. It is probable that he will be incarcerated pending his trial.

His extradition was ordered by the High Court last August and an appeal against that order was dismissed by the three-judge Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

Mr Davis had opposed his extradition on grounds that he suffers from both a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome and depression. Among his points of objection were that if he is extradited he will be detained in an inhumane and degrading manner.

Counsel for Mr Davis, John O’Kelly SC, told the Court of Appeal that people with severe Asperger’s Syndrome were “very heavily” reliant on family support and on their world remaining very much the same, but Mr Davis would be “totally torn” from his roots and isolated from his family, were he to be extradited.

Mr O’Kelly said his client would require a system of care so individualised to him that it simply was not available in the US prison system. He said statements from US prison authorities about their system were “aspirational” and accorded more with the policies of the Federal Bureau of Prisons rather than reality.

‘Decision based on facts’

Dismissing his appeal on Tuesday, Mr Justice Alan Mahon said the subject matter of the appeal was not based upon a point of law and as such, was not permitted in law.

Mr Justice Mahon said the High Court judge’s decision was based on facts found by him following a detailed and thorough consideration of evidence and information, including medical evidence and evidence relating to the US federal prison system.

The appeal effectively invited the court to reach a different conclusion on the same evidence to that of the High Court, Mr Justice Mahon said.

Even if this court was empowered to review the High Court judge’s findings, Mr Justice Mahon said he would not reach a different conclusion.

“I wish to emphasis that I in no way seek to diminish or trivialise the very real concerns and worries of the appellant (Davis) and his family as he faces the prospect of extradition to the United States and being imprisoned there,” Mr Justice Mahon said.

“Such a prospect would be daunting for an individual in robust mental health let alone someone coping with a significant mental health condition” such as Davis.

It is hoped that the extent to which the issues relating to Mr Davis’ diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome had been debated and considered in these proceedings, and the assurances provided by the US authorities will reduce these concerns to an appreciable degree, the judge said.

Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice John Edwards said they agreed with Mr Justice Mahon’s judgment.

Pseudonym

After the judgment was delivered, Mr Davis accepted the judgment with a nod to the large number of family members and supporters who had joined him in court. They came to embrace him, amid emotional scenes, but he was lead away by prison officers before he could embrace all of them.

He has been on bail since his arrest in January 2014.

It is alleged that Mr Davis was an administrator of the Silk Road website using the pseudonym “Libertas”, according to the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

The website is said to have facilitated the sale of illicit drugs including cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth and other illegal drugs.

Purchasers of illicit drugs from the website were paid in “Bitcoins” and Silk Road revenue was based on a commission of between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of sale revenue.

‘Loner, naive and immature’

Commissions earned by Silk Road are said to run to tens of millions of dollars.It is alleged that Mr Davis was paid $1,500 per week for his services.

In the course of its investigation of the Silk Road website, the FBI arrested a US citizen Ross Ulbricht, whom it is believed is the owner and operator if the website. It is alleged that Mr Davis’s involvement was identified from information extracted from Mr Ulbricht’s computers.

Mr Davis lives with his parents in Wicklow. He is the youngest of five children, has a poor employment history, is “obsessed with computers” and is described as a “loner, naive and immature”.

In a report dated January 21st, 2014, consultant psychiatrist Prof Michael Fitzgerald diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. In his view, Asperger’s Syndrome has been evident since childhood.

Prof Simon Barron Cohen, Professor of Development Psychopathology at Trinity College Cambridge, confirmed Prof Fitzgerald’s diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Prof Barron-Cohen rated his Asperger’s Syndrome as being “very severe”.

Mr Davis will not be extradited until after the expiration of a 15-day-period.

There was no indication given in court regarding an appeal to the Supreme Court.

World’s boldest cyber criminals: how US intelligence is hunting Russian hackers down

Since the beginning of 2010, US special services have arrested at least ten Russian hackers in different parts of the world. Some of them are already in American prisons, others are waiting for a verdict; one of the hackers was released and came back to Russia.

Dmitriy Smilianets (Bold), July 12, 2011Photo: Moscow Five / YouTube

Dmitriy Smilianets (Bold), July 12, 2011Photo: Moscow Five / YouTube

The Russian Foreign Ministry refers to such arrests as "abductions." Russian hackers are regularly accused of "the biggest attacks" in history and damage worth hundreds of millions of dollars, while most of them have ties to Russian special services and authorities. Meduza’s special correspondent Daniil Turovsky reveals four stories about the hackers the US intelligence managed to hunt down.

Roman Seleznev

On the morning of April 28, 2011, the Jamaâ El Fna Square in the center of Marrakech (Morocco) was as crowded as ever: passers-by bustled among cars, market tents and street cafes. Among them was Roman Seleznev, a strong man who usually wears a three-day stubble. A few minutes before that, Seleznev had been told to wear a suit before he could be admitted to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Since he did not have a suit, he and his wife went to the nearest cafe. The waiter said that he could serve them in 30 minutes. The couple agreed to wait, and the waiter mysteriously replied: "Bad idea." When he brought a glass of orange juice to the Seleznevs, an explosion thundered in the cafe.

After some time, Seleznev regained his senses, but for a little while. White smoke was pouring from the cafe. Most of the building was destroyed. Bodies covered in blood were all around. As it turned out later, the terrorists had left two briefcases with explosives in the cafe and blew them up with a mobile phone, killing 17 people. The Moroccan authorities blamed the attack on Al-Qaeda, but the organization refused to take responsibility for the explosion.

Seleznev survived, but fell into a coma. Doctors told his wife (who remained relatively untouched) and his father who had come to Marrakesh that he was very unlikely to survive, and if he would, he would then become a "vegetable for life". His father, Valery Seleznev, a State Duma deputy from the LDPR, arranged his son’s transportation to Moscow. There he asked a priest to the hospital who baptized Seleznev without his knowledge. While he was in a coma, a letter came from the King of Morocco, Mohammed VI. "The people of Morocco were horrified and saddened to learn that you were injured," it said.

About two weeks later, Seleznev recovered from the coma. It took him about a year to recover completely; a part of his skull was replaced by a titanium plate through numerous operations. He and his wife got divorced, she moved to live in the US.

This is how Seleznev recalled the terrorist act several years later. The incident is far from the most surprising twist of his biography.

nCux from Vladivostok

Seleznev was born in Vladivostok in 1984. When he was two years old, his parents divorced. Seleznev remembers that at first he and his mother lived in a room measuring 10 square meters; then she bought an apartment from her brother. His mother worked a cash register in a local store and was a drinker; most of the time Roman was alone. He began to study programming on his own; at the age of 16 he entered college, where he studied mathematics and computer science. Once, upon returning home in 2000, he discovered that his mother had drowned in the bath. Her brother came the same day, took all the valuables and told Seleznev to get out. The teenager went to live with his grandmother and got a job in a computer club that paid $5 for a 24h-work.

Roman Seleznev with his girlfriend Anna Otisko and her daughter, July 11, 2014

Roman Seleznev with his girlfriend Anna Otisko and her daughter, July 11, 2014

Seleznev’s case file indicates that at the age of 18 his interest in programming grew into first hacker attempts. He made them under the name nCux, where the Latin letters could be read as a Russian word for "psycho". Seleznev registered on some clandestine forums of carders: those who made money stealing bank cards (for example, carderplanet.com and carder.org). Initially, he hacked databases to steal documents (names, dates of birth, passport and social security numbers) and after a couple of years he started stealing credit card numbers and selling the databases to other carders.

Seleznev hacked processing systems of small businesses in the US, through which all financial transactions went. He used vulnerabilities to infect the system and copy all operations on the cards; the information was then collected on the servers belonging to the hacker. By 2009, Seleznev had become one of the most prominent sellers of stolen cards in the world.

Small snack bars in Washington and other US cities were his favorite targets. The criminal case mentions several pizzerias, street food and burrito joints, bakeries (about 3.700 enterprises in total). Seleznev used small businesses because of their poor security: such enterprises do not have their own cyber security departments, they usually use bad passwords.

The US special services began to watch Seleznev in 2005. In May 2009, FBI agents met with FSB officers in Moscow. The Russians gave the Americans some evidence proving that Roman Seleznev from Vladivostok was the identity behind the nCux. A month later, in June 2009, nCux announced to the forum that he was leaving the business, after which his forum accounts were deleted. The criminal case states that it was the FSB that told Seleznev the American authorities were after him. The hacker’s emails confirm that he did keep in touch with the FSB. He texted to one of his accomplices that he had protection in the FSB Information Security Department. He also said that the FSB knew who he was and what he did.

Meduza’s source related to cyber security claims that Russians hacking foreign systems are almost never punished: they are more often involved to work for the state. All Russian hackers know the saying: "do not work on Ru" (that is, you cannot attack Russian banks and companies while in Russia). Another Meduza’s interlocutor said: "there is a widespread scheme to attract illegal hackers and to encourage them." Meduza has had a comprehensive report on the connections between Russian special services and hackers. The New York Times wrote that while one of the most wanted Russian hackers, Evgeny Bogachev (Zeus), was infesting millions of computers to steal money, "the Russian authorities were looking over his shoulder, searching the same computers for files and emails" with classified information about Ukraine and Syria.

 

Having deleted his former nickname, Seleznev soon began to use the names Track2 and Bulba. Soon he brought his business to a new level. In September 2009, he opened an online store of stolen cards. It looked almost like Amazon: one could search by categories, choosing between brands of cards or financial organizations. US authorities believe that Seleznev re-invented the carder market, since previously, stolen cards had appeared on separate forum threads, while now the process of stolen data exchange is optimized and automated. One April day in 2011, about a million new cards appeared in Seleznev’s store. A couple of weeks after that, he flew to Morocco and almost died in an explosion. While the man was being treated, his accomplices continued to work on the project, before closing it in January 2012.

Arrest in the Maldives

After leaving the hospital, Seleznev took himself the nickname 2Pac. He created another online store - other hackers could sell stolen goods there. Then he launched a website where it was possible to find basic instructions on how to steal bank data and use it. At the top of the site was an ad in English: "Here I'll explain how to make money. From $500 to $50.000 and even $500.000. Remember, this is an illegal way! The whole process from beginning to end." In the first month, June 2014, it was visited by 3500 people. 

Seleznev earned millions of dollars. It is known that only through one of the services for the transfer of money, he received about 18 million. His exact earnings are unknown - the hacker received money through bitcoins, webmoney and other electronic wallets. He bought two houses in Bali, flew by plane from Vladivostok to the islands in the Indian Ocean. He often photographed bundles of money and expensive cars. He has a photo next to a sports car against the backdrop of St. Basil's Cathedral - almost the same as that of another arrested Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin (he was detained in Prague in October 2016, accused of hacking LinkedIn, Dropbox and other services, Nikulin claimed that he was required to admit that he had hacked Hillory Clinton's mailbox on the orders of Vladimir Putin).

Realizing that he could be tracked by the FBI agents, Seleznev traveled carefully. He chose countries in which there was no extradition to the United States, and bought tickets at the last minute to prevent intelligence services from monitoring their movements.

In July 2014, he went to the Maldives, where he rented a villa for 1400 dollars a day. "I took the most expensive villa, I have my own servant," he wrote to one of the accomplices.

Learning that Seleznev is in the Maldives, FBI agents asked the US State Department to use their connections with local authorities. Bloomberg described in detail how Seleznev's arrest was organized. After the talks, the head of the country's police agreed to detain the hacker, despite the absence of an extradition treaty. According to the publication, two FBI agents flew to the Maldives from Hawaii. Together with the police, they monitored Seleznev's movements. When he went to the airport, where he was due to fly to Moscow, he was detained. Hacker was put on a private plane and in 12 hours they brought to Guam, where the American military base is located.

According to the criminal case, Seleznev had a laptop with data on 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers, as well as passwords for access to servers, mail accounts and financial transfers.

After Guam Seleznev was transferred to Seattle. There he stated that the FBI agents were beating him. The agents responded that Seleznev was allowed to smoke and use cutlery. The court rejected Seleznev's claim.

The Foreign Ministry called Seleznev's arrest a kidnapping and "another unfriendly move by Washington." The father of Seleznev proposed imposing economic sanctions against the Maldives. He told that Roman was carried on eight armored cars, changing them on and off. "They made him some kind of internet bin Laden," the parliamentarian said.

A month after the arrest, a message appeared on the forum 2pac: "We apologize for the lack of updates. The boss got into a car accident, he's in the hospital."

The prosecutor said that Seleznev is the most serious cybercriminal ever brought to justice. He was described as a person with extraordinary computer skills, who returned to cybercrime several times, "increasing the scale of attacks". The damage from his actions was estimated at $170 million. The prosecutor even compared the Russian with Tony Soprano - the main character of the series The Sopranos.

"His arrest is a rare victory in the fight against Eastern European cybercriminals, the prosecution maintained. - Many hackers live in Russia, which does not extradite criminals to the United States. If Seleznev is released, then, given his links with Russian law enforcement agencies, he will act at home with impunity."

Before the verdict, Seleznev admitted his guilt. Before that, he refused to cooperate with the investigation and delayed the process. In the criminal case there is a transcript of his telephone prison conversations with his father. They discuss the "Uncle Andrey variant" - delaying the consideration of the case, at which Seleznev first becomes ill, and then ceases to communicate with lawyers. It worked: before the hearing the defense filed a notice of withdrawal from the case because of disagreements with the client; the meeting was postponed to November from May 2015. The transfer of the case led to additional costs due to the fact that witnesses in the case had already flown to court in Seattle from Sri Lanka, Honolulu and Chicago.

Before the verdict, he wrote a letter to the court by hand, in which he briefly retold his biography, telling that he had contacted the criminal world because of his difficult childhood. "I tried to find a job on the Internet, and everything went downhill," Seleznev said. "I chose the wrong path - I hacked into computers for thievery."

The verdict to Seleznev was taken in April 2017 - when the story of the alleged interference of Russian hackers in the presidential elections in the US has been one of the main topics in the American media for several months. He was sentenced to 27 years - the longest period that has ever been given in the US for cybercrime. "I am a political prisoner. I am a tool for the US government," Seleznev said after the verdict. "They want to send a signal to the whole world, using me as a pawn. In light of my head injury, today's sentence can be considered fatal." His father called the decision "a sentence of cannibals." In September 2017, Seleznev admitted the charges upon two more counts - they caused a loss of about $52 million.

Bold for Mother Russia

On March 22, 2012, the head of the most successful Russian cybersport organization of those years Moscow Five Dmitriy Smilianets (Bravy - Bold) announced that the team has a curator - businessman and dollar billionaire Sergey Matvienko (son of Valentina Matvienko, the Federation Council speaker). He said that the negotiations with Matvienko were held in parallel with the victories of the Moscow Five team in the League of Legends in the World Cup final (Meduza spoke in detail about the Russian teams in LOL). On the Moscow Five website, a joint photo of Smilianets and Matvienko appeared: Smilianets dressed in his blue Adidas sweatshirt, Matvienko's son is sitting next to a buffalo stuffed animal.

Dmitriy Smilianets (right) along with Sergey Matvienko (at the center), May 10, 2012

Dmitriy Smilianets (right) along with Sergey Matvienko (at the center), May 10, 2012

Judging by the social networks, Smilianets was fond of politics and communicated with Russian public figures. In March 2012, when presidential elections were held, he posted a photo of the ballot paper with a tick for Vladimir Putin. He signed the photo: "I'm sure! For a strong leader!" After a while he laid out a photo from the round table with representatives of the Presidential Administration, where "issues of e-sports in Russia" were discussed. In another photo there was a Russian flag, on top of which was a quote from a hymn: "Our loyalty to the Fatherland gives us strength."

Before each competition Smilianets publicly appealed to God. "Lord, help us win the Intel Extreme Masters in Hanover. We fight for the honor of Moscow, for Mother Russia!" he wrote in March 2012. Then he posted the picture Blessed Morning in Moscow, which, he said, was given the Moscow Five by artist Nikas Safronov, who usually writes Russian politicians and celebrities.

In 2003, according to Bloomberg, Smilianets met Vladimir Drinkman when they played Counter-Strike on the Internet. Smilianets in these games often cheated, using cheat codes. Soon they met. Drinkman said that they became friends - Smilianets was one of the people with whom you can drink vodka or go fishing.

Drinkman grew up in Syktyvkar, from the school was fond of computers, independently learned the C++ programming language, and worked as a system administrator at the university. Smilianets was born in Moscow, where he graduated from the Department of Information Security at Bauman University. In the self-description on his Twitter, he reported that he was interested in geopolitics, e-sports and information security.

According to the criminal record, since 2005, buddies have begun to hack computer networks of financial companies, payment systems and stores, gaining access to credit card data. Smilianets was responsible for their resale - the cards went for 10-50 dollars apiece depending on the country of origin. They intruded the Nasdaq exchange, 7-Eleven supermarkets, French Carrefour network and other large companies. Over the next ten years, according to the prosecution, they stole about 160 million credit cards and caused damage of 300 million dollars. Hacker Albert Gonzales pointed the finger at Drinkman to the American intelligence services; already through Drinkman they went to Smilianets. Gonzales himself is already serving a 20-year prison term - for stealing 130 million credit cards.

Arrest in Amsterdam

In July 2013, the special services found a photo in the Smilianets’ Instagram account, on which he was posing in a hoodie with the coat of arms of Russia against the background of the inscription I Amsterdam in the center of the Dutch capital. After that, the Americans phoned all the hotels nearby; in one of them they were told that Smilianets really lived in a hotel, but now he was asleep. The next morning the detectives arrived at the hotel. It turned out that Smilianets took two numbers. In the next was Vladimir Drinkman, the location of whom the special services did not even guess.

By the last post in VKontakte before the detention, Smilianets published a photo of the cyber sportsmen with a signature: "The property of the electronic sport of Russia. Only agents of the CIA and MI6 could run down him." After the arrest Smilianets was called ‘the godfather of eSports’, and a column on Sports.ru appeared stating that "now everyone understands how Bravy has earned money for the maintenance of the teams."

Smilianets’ father, Moscow lawyer Viktor Smilianets, believes that any evidence does not support his son’s guilt. According to him, when detained Smilianets had no computer - the main potential evidence. "The amount of Smilianets inflicted on banks and other financial institutions is more perplexing, figures are incredible," Smilianets Sr. wrote. "Americans like to draw astronomical figures and thereby write off billions of dollars of debts."

Later the investigators reported that there were three more hackers in the grouping - two Russians and one Ukrainian; they could not be caught.

Smilianets almost immediately agreed to extradition to the United States. There he was put in jail in New Jersey, where he began to spend his term learning Spanish and Chinese. Drinkman fought against extradition for two and a half years. He told Bloomberg that he had read George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Flame in the Dutch prison. He gave the interview in a psychiatric hospital, where, according to the lawyer, the hacker was taken after the Netherlands agreed to his transfer to America.

In September 2015 Smilianets and Drinkman pleaded guilty. The verdict was postponed several times. Now the announcement is scheduled for September 22, 2017. They face 25 and 35 years of prison, respectively.

Nikita Kuzmin

YouDo founder with cabriolet

By 2009, 25-year-old Nikita Kuzmin succeed both in public business and underground hacking. He became a co-founder of YouDo company and wrote about its launch in Roem.ru. At that time, the service did not specialize in consumer services, as it is now, but was a platform for order of advertising campaigns. Kuzmin found oot that cyber security specialists paid attention to the hacks he had committed; they began to investigate thetrojan virus, which Kuzmin had been developing for several years and earned hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Kuzmin was adopted by musician Vladimir Kuzmin. "Nikita has his own father, I just brought him up," the singer said in 2010. “He became a businessman. Perhaps he followed his father’s footsteps, whom he had never seen in his life." In 2016, the singer denied his family ties with the hacker: "He is not my son, it's a mistake."

"I had my son from my lover!”- told mother of the hacker Tatyana Artemyeva. “Now he lives in America, a real computer genius, he regularly sends me money. I remember how Volodya came to meet Nikita's father. I will not tell the name of this man. Kuzmin shook his hand, wished him luck, and I gave him the keys to a rented apartment."

Materials of the criminal case Kuzmin say that he studied at two technical universities, where he received "advanced computer skills." The source of "Meduza told that Kuzmin graduated from the Information Security Department of the Moscow University named after Bauman.

Nikita Kuzmin

Nikita Kuzmin

Nikita Kuzmin had access to the Internet in prison: for example, he posted this photo in his Facebook page a year before the verdict, April 8, 2015

In the mid ‘00s, Nikita Kuzmin began hacking ICQ: he stole an account from an owner and demanded money for its return. This way, the hacker earned about 20 thousand dollars. He got access to the password and login database of one of the financial organizations. For several years he had been withdrawing money from banks throughout the world. He earned only about 50 thousand dollars. Kuzmin periodically bought different hacker software for stealing money from bank accounts in the US and Australia, but the programs often did not work, and so he decided to make his own.

He hired a programmer, who made up the bank Trojan - Gozi for ten months on the project of Kuzmin. Kuzmin paid about $ 20.000 for this work

He started promoting his work under the nickname ‘76 service’. The program was not just a virus, but actually a B2B-software for criminals without hacking skills. He rented the program to other hackers – Gozi could be used for $ 2000 during 2 weeks and be set up for necessary purposes.

The program sent infected pdf documents to victims. After the infection, Gozi downloaded a virus to a computer that collected all the secret banking information, including passwords and logins. This information was passed to the owners of Gozi (later investigators will find a server that stored about 10.000 passwords to bank accounts, they belonged to about 300 companies, including NASA. In total 40.000 computers were attacked by hackers in the United States). Gozi's customers could access to this information through a user-friendly interface. The US authorities estimate еру damage caused by hackers at about 50 million dollars.

In 2010, the FBI agents started search for the Gozi’s creators. By that time, they had already studied the trojan, found the IP addresses tha hackers used for their attacks. Special services received permission to intercept correspondence of an unknown Russian hacker. Some of them are in the materials of the criminal case.

"Why do you need Zeus? Use my trojan. Mine is much cooler,"- wrote the hacker.

"How much will it cost me?" - answered the unknown.

"2k per month, all inclusive. And I have a botnet and a convenient admin."

Other reports show he paid for publication of his girlfriend’s photo in the Russian Playboy as a gift and drives around Europe on a BMW 6-Series.

From the intercepted correspondence it is clear that he offered a client to pay for the program by transferring money to his account in Alfa-Bank on to the name of Nikita Kuzmin. The special services also identified the hacker’s mail address nikita@youdo.ru. The Americans also studied Kuzmin's account in Odnoklassniki and found photos showing the hacker standing next to the BMW 6 Series, the same that he rode in Europe. 

Arrest in San Francisco 

November 19, 2010 Kuzmin wrote in a chat: "I'll go from Thailand and get lost somewhere there." November 22, 2010: "In Bangkok." November 27, 2010, he was in San Francisco on business, not thinking about a possible arrest. At the airport, he was immediately detained, then arrested and transported to a New York prison.

When this became known to other hackers, they panicked. One of the users of the program, developed by Kuzmin, wrote: "Everyone who dealt with the ‘76 team’, take measures, change contacts, behave carefully in forums, don’t leave the country without special need, or ******." Another user wrote: "Nikita talked a lot about himself, testified against his partners ..."

At first, Kuzmin faced 97 years of imprisonment. Prosecutor of the Southern District of New York Prith Bharara represented the prosecution in Kuzmin's case, New Yorker called him "Thу Man Who Terrifies Wall Street" (in March 2017 the White House fired Bharara). He pointed out that the virus "Kuzmin made up for those who do not have advanced computer skills." "Unlike most [cyber] crimes, Kuzmin's crime - spread and use of the virus - can not be solved only with capture of the creator. He sold the Gozi code to others, and it can be used further, " the prosecutor explained.

In May 2011, Kuzmin signed an agreement with the investigation on cooperation and began to testify against his accomplices. After that, Denis Chalovskis was arrested in Riga, Jonut Paunesku was arrested in Bucharest.

Kuzmin was defended by lawyer Alan Futherfas, who also was a lawyer of the son of President of the United States, Trump Jr. (before that he defended clients associated with the mafia, and with Trump Jr. he began to cooperate after it became known about Trump's meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, who allegedly offered him compromat on Hillary Clinton). The case of Kuzmin was being considered for a long time, meetings were regularly postponed.

In prison, Kuzmin, apparently, had access to the Internet. In 2011, he was able to sell his stake in YouDo; in 2015 he updated a photo on Facebook; two months before the verdict he left comments on the Roem website. For example, on March 7, 2016, he participated in a discussion on the presidential administration's initiative to provide the tax service with information about all purchases of the Russians abroad. "It’s a sensation!" - said Kuzmin.

The verdict was read out to the hacker on May 2, 2016. He was sentenced to 3 years in prison and a fine of 7 million dollars; by that time, he had already spent five years in prison. Kuzmin returned to Russia. The prosecution requested a period of two times more, but the court took into account Kuzmin's cooperation with the investigation.

Facebook page of Kuzmin shows now he is engaged in the Binomo trading platform and travels a lot. He was in Vienna, Amsterdam, Kiev, Abu Dhabi, Sochi, the Pluthoran Plateau.

Meduza met with Nikita Kuzmin in St. Petersburg, where he lives now. He refused to tell about himself, saying “it’s not the time”.

No American citizens extradited to UK over crimes allegedly committed in US

Not one US citizen has been extradited to Britain as a result of crimes said to have been committed in America since a controversial transatlantic treaty came into force, it has been disclosed.

Christopher Tappin

Christopher Tappin

Critics say it demonstrates the “lopsided” nature of the arrangement since Britions have been subject to US extradition orders as a result of their alleged actions in the UK.

The Home Office made the disclosure under Freedom of Information laws earlier this month.

It said: “From the information available, between January 2004 and 30 March 2012, there have been seven known US citizens extradited from the US to the UK.

“Of those seven, none have been identified as crimes which were committed whilst the person was in the US.”

Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, said: “This is more damning evidence of the lop-sided effect of out extradition arrangements with the US.

“Gary McKinnon, Christopher Tappin and Richard O’Dwyer are all subject to US extradition orders based on their actions in Britain.

“Yet, no American has ever been extradited for alleged offences committed on US soil. It smacks of double standards, and strengthens the case for extradition reform.”

Mr McKinnon has been fighting extradition over computer hacking charges for ten years while Mr Tappin was sent to the US earlier this year for alleged arms dealing. Mr O’Dwyer, a student, faces extradition for running a pirate film and TV website.

A US embassy spokeswoman said: “The US has never refused an extradition request from the UK for any type of crime under this treaty.

“The UK has refused 7 requests from the US. The facts clearly show that the treaty is fair and in no way lopsided.”

Vancouver real estate developer faces lawsuits, extradition to U.S.

Mark John Chandler claimed “to be one of the biggest real estate developers in Canada” when he reached out to a New York money lender in 2011, according to court filings.

Mark John Chandler

Mark John Chandler

Now, the Vancouver developer faces the prospect of being shipped to the U.S. to face charges in an alleged “fraudulent scheme” involving Los Angeles real estate. The FBI alleges in court documents that Chandler may have used investors’ funds to “support his lifestyle.”

Closer to home, Chandler’s 92-unit latest Metro Vancouver condo development sits empty more than a year past its anticipated move-in date, mired in a complex tangle of legal disputes, including homebuyers alleging breach of trust, private lenders launching foreclosure actions, and a municipality seeking to recover more than three years’ worth of unpaid taxes.

Corporate records show Chandler is the director of the Newmark Group and several other companies named in a series of lawsuits and foreclosure involving the Newmark condo development in the Township of Langley called Murrayville House.

Though the legal disputes involve tens of millions of dollars (two creditors who have already obtained judgments against Chandler’s companies worth more than $12.5 million, according to legal filings), they may not be the most pressing item on Chandler’s plate this week: he’s to appear Friday in B.C. Supreme Court, where the U.S. seeks his extradition in the Los Angeles case dating to 2009, according to documents filed in court.

Chandler is alleged to have pitched a highrise condo development on L.A.’s Hill Street to “victim investors,” making false representations to obtain their money, according to court filings. California investors allegedly “put up property as collateral for Mr. Chandler’s Hill Street project and lost the properties in foreclosure proceedings when Mr. Chandler’s promised repayments did not materialize,” according to court filings.

Chandler, reached by phone this week, did not provide his side of the story.

Last month, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of 34 individuals and B.C. companies each claiming to have bought strata lots last year in the Langley development. The notice of claim alleges each buyer entered into agreements of purchase and sale with numbered companies controlled by Mr. Chandler, paying deposits usually between $150,000 and $250,000 each, money that was to be held in trust. The claim alleges that, in breach of the agreements, Chandler’s numbered company “entered into contracts for purchase and sale for each of the strata lots with third parties.”

Last week, responses were filed on behalf of Chandler’s numbered companies, with one claiming “the true nature of the transactions between the plaintiffs and (the numbered company) was as loans. … Notwithstanding the terms of some of the documents signed between the plaintiffs and (the company), it was never intended that the plaintiffs would actually become owners of the units in question.”

The response also says, as of the date of its filing last Thursday, construction of the Langley project has been completed and the “units are becoming ready for sale,” adding “the Murrayville Project has suffered substantial cost overruns.”

B.C.’s Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate does not discuss current investigations nor confirm whether an investigation exists, but, said office spokesman Mykle Ludvigsen, “I can assure you that every complaint made to our office is investigated.”

“That being said, allegations of the type (described in the civil lawsuit) would be of interest to our office,” said Ludvigsen.

Chandler’s past dealings with B.C. regulators include a 2006 order from B.C.’s then-superintendent of real estate, W. Alan Clark, ordering the developer to stop marketing units in several Vancouver condo projects, after Clark found the information before him raised “a serious concern and a likelihood that Chandler, acting on behalf of the developers, has sold one or more development units in the developers’ developments to more than one purchaser.”

Postmedia reached Chandler by phone Tuesday to explain a story was scheduled about the Murrayville foreclosures, the homebuyers’ lawsuit, and the U.S. extradition hearing. Chandler said he was in B.C., but not sure whether he would attend Friday’s hearing. Soon afterwards, he cut off further questions by passing the phone to his associate, who he said would respond to allegations. The associate, identified as James Cronk, then said he could not answer questions about any legal proceedings, but, before hanging up, said he would phone right back with more information.

Chandler and Cronk did not phone back Tuesday nor answer a call on Wednesday.

The Township of Langley claims it is owed almost $300,000 in outstanding taxes on the Murrayville development, according to information provided by the municipality, with each of the 92 units to be individually put up for sale at a public auction later this month unless the taxes are paid. The delinquent taxes must be paid by certified cheque by Thursday at 4 p.m. or they will go to auction.

The following morning at 10 a.m., Chandler’s extradition hearing is scheduled in downtown Vancouver. Chandler is required by law to appear in person at Friday’s hearing where his defence lawyer is expected to argue against his extradition, said John Gibb-Carsley, a lawyer with the federal Justice Department, who is acting on behalf of the U.S. in the case.

Chandler was indicted in Arizona in 2000 on 13 charges of fraud, theft and forgery. He entered into a plea agreement in 2003 and was deported to Canada and ordered to pay $189,500 in restitution, The Vancouver Sun’s David Baines reported in 2006.

As of this week, no one is living in the Murrayville development, according to the Township of Langley.

US may struggle to extradite SocGen bankers over Libor

France has proved reluctant to surrender citizens in prior rate-rigging cases

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US authorities will need to overcome sizeable hurdles if they are to successfully prosecute two French Société Générale bankers charged over alleged Libor rigging, legal experts have said. Lawyers cast doubt on whether the women — who are among the most senior individuals yet to face indictment in the global probe into manipulation of the financial benchmark — will ever see a US courtroom, arguing France will be reluctant to extradite them.

Danielle Sindzingre and Muriel Bescond were indicted in a federal court in New York this week but neither is in the US and the Department of Justice would not say if it was seeking extradition. “This is ultimately a big stand-off,” said Roger Burlingame, a former US federal prosecutor who now works at Kobre & Kim representing European-based clients under investigation by the US.

“As long as they stay in France, they are not going to be extradited.” Neither of the women responded to requests for comment through LinkedIn, and their lawyers could not be identified. French courts in general have been loath to allow the long arm of US justice to reach its citizens.

And earlier decisions by the French authorities and courts over the Libor-rigging scandal suggest they would look skeptically at US claims if the pair were to contest extradition. This is ultimately a big stand-off. As long as they stay in France, they are not going to be extradited ROGER BURLINGAME, A FORMER US FEDERAL PROSECUTOR A Paris appeals court refused earlier this year to extradite Stephane Esper, a former SocGen trader who was charged with benchmark-rigging offences by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office.

The court reasoned Mr Esper could not be extradited to the UK because benchmark-rigging was not an offence at the time in France. While some banks cleared out swaths of traders and submitters in the wake of the scandal, SocGen still employs Ms Sindzingre and Ms Bescond.

The bank has not been fined or charged by US authorities in connection with Libor rigging. Ms Sindzingre was appointed the global co-head of fixed income, credit and currencies in 2015. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is based in London, and Ms Bescond’s profile says she is global head of short-term derivatives, based in Paris.

Robert Anello, partner at Grand Iason & Anello, said Ms Sindzingre’s London base could make a difference. “Particularly since she isn’t a UK citizen, the chances of her getting extradited [to the US] are greater than the French extraditing one of their own,” he said. “The French laws will make it more difficult — though not necessarily impossible.” Bruce Zagaris, a partner at Berliner, Corcoran & Rowe, said that if Ms Sindzingre was in the UK, she would be “well advised” to return to France.

He said the US authorities may well not request extradition in the first place if they did not think it would be granted. He added, however, that they may issue via Interpol a “red notice” for the individuals, which could restrict their ability to travel. Mr Burlingame said: “The safe thing for them to assume is that there’ll be an arrest warrant waiting for them as soon as they leave France.”

So far, SocGen has been fined only by the European Commission for benchmark-rigging. Brussels landed the bank with a €445.9m penalty in 2013. In total, global banks have paid fines totalling $9bn to authorities around the world over the Libor scandal.

IRA veteran Sean Garland escapes extradition to US.

Former Workers' party president wanted over alleged links to 'super dollars' North Korean counterfeiting plot

Sean Garland was arrested in Dublin in 2009 and had been fighting extradition from the Republic of Ireland. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Sean Garland was arrested in Dublin in 2009 and had been fighting extradition from the Republic of Ireland. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Ireland's high court has rejected a request to extradite a senior IRA veteran to the US over alleged links to a North Korean counterfeiting plot.

Sean Garland, a former Workers' party president, has been fighting extradition from the Republic of Ireland since his arrest in Dublin in 2009.

US authorities wanted to try the 76-year-old for his alleged role in the worldwide conspiracy involving so-called "super dollars" that the FBI among other security agencies alleged was linked to the regime in North Korea.

In a brief hearing on Wednesday in the Dublin court, Justice John Edwards said the court was not disposed to grant the application and will give its reasons on 13 January. A Workers' party spokesman said Garland was extremely relieved and delighted with today's ruling. The party thanked those who had backed the campaign to stop Garland's extradition.

Last week, English artist and rock musician Nick Reynolds visited Dublin to hand over his sculpted cast of Garland's head.

Reynolds, who has made artworks out of casts of train robber Ronnie Biggs and 19th-century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, made a sculpture out of a cast of Garland's head.

The musician, whose band Alabama 3 played a concert to raise funds for the campaign to stop Garland's extradition, presented Garland with the sculpture when the band launched their album in Dublin.

O'Dwyer lawyers used novel legal arrangement to resolve extradition case

Owen Bowcott examines the legal implications of the O'Dwyer case for the future of extradition arrangements between UK and US

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Lawyers for Richard O'Dwyer used a novel legal arrangement to avoid the undergraduate being forcibly extradited to America where he is wanted on breaching film copyrights.

His barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, told the high court that the 24-year-old had made a 'Deferred Prosecution Agreement' (DPA) – a mechanism designed to negotiate settlements in economic crimes which the UK is in the process of adopting.

The surprise deal reached between the US prosecuting authorities and O'Dwyer's legal team could potentially be a trailblazing example that may smooth the way to resolving other protracted extradition cases involving financial claims.

In O'Dwyer's case, agreement seems to have allowed plea-bargaining to take place before the painful process of removal from the UK. Since many extradited Britons subsequently negotiate a reduced sentence once they come before a US court, it offers the opportunity to short-circuit years of litigation.

Campaigners against extradition have accused the agreement between the US and UK as being tilted in favour of the States. The home secretary's decision last month to block the removal to America of the alleged computer hacker Gary MacKinnon may have encouraged the Washington authorities to reach an advance deal with O'Dwyer rather than risk a further high profile defeat.

DPAs are increasingly being used in the US. Last month the Ministry of Justice announced that they would be introduced into the UK mainly for use in complex fraud cases.

According to the MoJ, a Deferred Prosecution Agreement is "an agreement between a prosecutor and an organisation where, in return for complying with a range of stringent conditions, the prosecutor would defer a criminal prosecution.

"The process will be scrutinised by an independent judge and the threat of prosecution will remain hanging over an organisation should it fail to comply fully with the agreement."

Announcing last month that DPAs would be available in the UK, the justice minister, Damian Green, said: "Deferred Prosecution Agreements will give prosecutors an effective new tool to tackle what has become an increasingly complex issue. It will ensure that more unacceptable corporate behaviour is dealt with including through substantial penalties, proper reparation to victims, and measures to prevent future wrongdoing."

Referring to the O'Dwyer deal, the Labour MP Keith Vaz, chair iof the Commons Home Affairs select committee, said: "I welcome the agreement which means Richard O'Dwyer will not be extradited to the US.

"However, Richard should not have had to go directly to the US to negotiate. Ministers should use their discretion to prevent extradition in cases which are patently unjust.

"The US extradition treaty was not negotiated on a level playing field and remains unbalanced. As the home affairs committee recommended in March, we need to amend the treaty and introduce an evidence test."

Lauri Love wouldn’t get justice in the US. UK courts must try his hacking case

The 31-year-old Briton accused of hacking into US army and FBI sites faces extradition to the US – but changes in UK law should protect him

Lauri Love arrives for his extradition hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court in London, September 2016. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

Lauri Love arrives for his extradition hearing at Westminster magistrates’ court in London, September 2016. Photograph: Peter Nicholls/Reuters

While Donald Trump and the United States intelligence services argue over who hacked whom, it has been almost forgotten that, for a young British citizen, hacking accusations pack a much heavier punch than political point-scoring. Lauri Love, who has Asperger syndrome, is facing extradition to the US and is now awaiting a date for the appeal hearing that will determine the course of the rest of his life.

Amber Rudd orders Lauri Love extradition to US on hacking charges

Love, aged 31, from Suffolk, is accused of hacking into the sites of the US army, Department of Defense, FBI, Nasa, Federal Reserve and others between 2012 and 2013. The US government is seeking his removal to stand trial there. Technically, Love could face 99 years, although the indications are that the authorities would seek a plea bargain and a shorter sentence.

It is just over four years since Theresa May, then home secretary, announced to widespread applause that the US could not extradite Gary McKinnon, who also had Asperger syndrome and who had been accused of hacking into Nasa and Pentagon sites. The Daily Mail – which, like the Guardian, had long argued against this extradition – applauded her stance. And last year, when May ran for prime minister, the paper threw its weight behind her. Janis Sharp, McKinnon’s mother, has also spoken out for Love.

But in the meantime, under the 2013 Crime and Courts Act, parliament has handed the home secretary’s decision-making role on extradition back to the courts. For this reason, the current incumbent, Amber Rudd, has declined to intervene. But the law change means that British courts can now try alleged crimes that, like hacking, have been committed in Britain but have ramifications abroad – and punish them according to our laws, not the laws of another justice system.

The judge who authorised Love’s extradition last year said she accepted that “Mr Love suffers from both physical and mental health issues, but I have found the medical facilities in the United States prison estate … are such that I can be satisfied his needs will be comprehensively met.” Yet the American justice system is one of the most punitive in the world and Love would be regarded within the prison system as someone who had damaged the US: in the increasingly toxic and xenophobic post-Trump climate, he would be an inevitable target.

Karen Todner, Love’s solicitor, who successfully defended McKinnon, has pointed out that May changed the law so that such cases could be tried in Britain. Todner says that if the law “was meant to provide protection to someone such as Gary McKinnon and yet serves no purpose to someone as vulnerable as Mr Love, it has become an empty protection”.

Love’s case has the support of more than 100 MPs, led by the Conservative David Burrowes, McKinnon’s MP, and Labour’s Barry Sheerman. They wrote to Barack Obama last year arguing that the request for extradition should be dropped. Rudd should add her voice, and address it to the incoming president.

Lauri Love is not seeking to avoid justice, but such justice is not currently available in the US. The British courts are perfectly capable of trying a case that involves no acts of violence or extremism. They should now assert their right to do so.