On Monday16th September 2019, a Moscow court ordered that Igor Musatov remains detained for a month over $800,000 cryptocurrency fraud involving the CEO of an IT company who unable to rectify things with Musatov, has finally turned towards legal means.
According to the report by Russian information agency TASS, Igor Musatov, a former professional ice hockey player from Russia, was facing charges of swindling 45 million Rubles ($700,000) from the CEO of an IT company.
Musatov reportedly met the CEO in January 2018 and told him that he was engaged in the cryptocurrency trading.
A month later, Musatov offered the IT professionals the opportunity to buy 103 Bitcoin for 45 million Rubles ($700,000), which was a substantial discount over average market prices, to which he obliged.
According to the report, the CEO went to Musatov’s offices to complete the transaction and handed over the money to an assistant, who then took off, apparently fleeing the office building through a hidden entrance.
The victim managed to contact Musatov who said he would sort out the issue, but he never appeared, nor did the Bitcoin.
Musatov has been put on a wanted list and charged in absentia until his eventual detention on Monday.
An Ongoing Case
In the courtroom, Musatov said the criminal proceedings against him were the result of a misunderstanding. He claimed he was ready to show evidence that he is innocent.
Musatov’s lawyer reiterated this by telling 360 TV-channel that his client pleads not guilty:
“We believe that the relations that had risen as a result of the exchange of cryptocurrencies are exclusively civil. Criminal prosecution is out of the question,” he stated.
The legal status of cryptocurrencies in Russia remains undefined, and lawmakers have been working on legislation for several years to cover digital assets, but nothing concrete has been implemented yet.
Meanwhile, the Russian authorities are trying to prosecute fraudsters in the area of cryptocurrencies. For instance, in April 2018, two Russian men were charged with fraud and sentenced over stealing BTC-e codes from online forum users.
Dwindling Crypto Hype
Earlier on April 9, 2019, the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) released the results of a survey devoted to cryptocurrencies. The survey, conducted among 1,600 respondents above 18 years of age, indicated that the hype around cryptocurrencies in Russia is dropping and that the majority don’t even think Bitcoin (BTC) is a feasible investment.