A high-ranking representative of the notorious Russian Finiko Ponzi scheme has been arrested in Tatarstan. Ilgiz Shakirov, a businessman from Kazan, has risen to the rank of vice president of the crypto pyramid that allegedly defrauded millions of investors in the Russian Federation and surrounding regions.
Kazan police arrest the vice-president of Finiko
Police in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan arrested Ilgiz Shakirov, a businessman from the capital Kazan, for his alleged involvement in the fraudulent theft of funds in the Finiko case, Realnoe Vremya reported. The local media cites undisclosed sources familiar with the investigation.
Shakirov allegedly lured 100,000 people into the Ponzi scheme, one of the biggest financial scams in modern Russian history. For his achievements, the native of Tatarstan earned the status of vice-president of the cryptocurrency pyramid.
According to a recent report by blockchain forensics firm Chainalysis, Finiko received over $1.5 billion worth of bitcoins between December 2019 and August 2021. The digital money came in 800,000 separate deposits from investors lured by promises monthly returns of up to 30%.
Chainalysis noted that while it is unclear how many individual victims were behind these deposits and how much of the total amount was paid out to investors to maintain the Ponzi scheme, “it is clear that Finiko represents a massive fraud perpetrated against Eastern European cryptocurrency users”.
Most defrauded bitcoin holders are based in the Russian Federation and neighboring Ukraine, according to sender address analysis. Finiko primarily targeted potential investors among Russian-speaking populations in the former Soviet space before the program collapsed this summer.
Police investigators are now expected to seek a permanent arrest warrant for Shakirov within 48 hours, Realnoe Vremya added in his report released on Wednesday. Before he was apprehended, the only other Finiko executive detained was pyramid founder Kirill Doronin, an Instagram influencer associated with other Ponzi schemes in the past.
International arrest warrants have been issued for three of Doronin’s associates. With their boss, they are accused of having embezzled at least 250 million rubles (nearly 3.5 million dollars) in collusion with “unidentified persons”. However, damage estimates in the case continue to grow. So far, 80 people have been officially recognized as victims of the scam, and more claims are pending.
Do you think the Russian authorities will be able to detain the last suspects in the Finiko case? Share your expectations for the survey in the comments section below.
Lubomir Tassev is a tech-savvy Eastern European journalist who loves Hitchens’ quote: “Being a writer is who I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.
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