Estonian govt approves extradition of crypto suspects to US for 2nd time

Ivan Turõgin and Sergei Potapenko.
Ivan Turõgin and Sergei Potapenko. Photo: Taavi Sepp / Shutterstock. Mihkel Maripuu kollaaž

The Estonian government decided on Thursday that crypto businessmen Ivan Turogin and Sergei Potapenko, who are accused of cryptocurrency fraud and engaging in criminal agreements, are to be extradited to the United States.

This marks the second time the government has decided to extradite these men to the United States. The first decision was made on Sept. 7; however, it was annulled by the Tallinn Circuit Court on Nov. 29, due to, among other things, the government failing to investigate the detention conditions in the United States as a significant factor in their decision.

The Ministry of Justice has now found that sufficient evidence has been collected to ensure that the infringement of the individuals' fundamental rights due to extradition is not disproportionate. The ministry concluded that the conditions for the extradition of the men have been met.

In November 2022, the Estonian police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation apprehended the men in Tallinn on an 18-count indictment for their alleged involvement in a 575-million-dollar cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

According to court documents, Potapenko and Turogin allegedly defrauded hundreds of thousands of victims through a scheme described by US authorities as a Ponzi scheme. They induced victims to enter into fraudulent equipment rental contracts with the defendants' cryptocurrency mining service called HashFlare.

The company had hundreds of thousands of customers around the world and potential damage amounts to more than half a billion euros.