Estonian businessman Turõgin, subject to extradition to US, refuses to open door to police

Ivan Turõgin
Ivan Turõgin Photo: Taavi Sepp

Early on Wednesday morning, Estonian citizens Ivan Turõgin and Sergei Potapenko, who are accused of money laundering, fraud and engaging in criminal agreements, were put on a plane in Tallinn to be extradited to the United States -- however, Turõgin did not voluntarily open the door to the police who came to pick him up.

Ago Ambur, head of the cyber crime bureau of the Central Criminal Police, told the daily that on May 28, the police complied with the government's order to deliver the extradited Sergei Potapenko and Ivan Turõgin to representatives of the United States at Tallinn Airport.

Since the men were under court-ordered electronic surveillance, the police went to their homes late on Tuesday.

«Since Ivan did not open the door to the police even after repeated requests, the police entered his home through the open back door,» Ambur said.

Attorney-at-law Paul Keres, who represented the men, told Delfi that this was nevertheless breaking in.

Turõgin did not resist and voluntarily went with the officials. At Tallinn Airport, Turõgin and Potapenko were handed over to representatives of the United States, and early on Wednesday morning the US officials left Estonia with the suspects.

The Supreme Court of Estonia on May 24 decided not to hear the appeals of crypto businessmen Ivan Turõgin and Sergei Potapenko, so the decision of the Tallinn Circuit Court of April 22 to extradite the men accused of cyber fraud and money laundering to the United States came into force.

The Estonian government decided on Jan. 26 for the second time that the two crypto businessmen are to be extradited to the United States. The first decision was made on Sept. 7, 2023; however, it was annulled by the Tallinn Circuit Court on Nov. 29, due to, among other things, the government failing to ascertain the acceptability of the conditions of incarceration in the United States as a significant factor in their decision.

The Estonian police and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation apprehended the men in Tallinn in November 2022 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 Turõgin 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.