Italian authorities have accused the founder of now-defunct crypto exchange Bitgrail of taking part in the series of hacks that stole almost $150 million from the exchange’s users, Italy’s Postal and Communications Police said in a press release on 21 December.
According to the notice, the police’s cybercrime unit has alleged that Francesco Firano, the director of the exchange, was responsible for the hacks by taking no action to prevent them after the first attack was discovered. The director of the national centre for cybercrimes, Ivano Gabrielli, told Reuters that during the investigation it became clear Firano was involved in the hacks, He said:
“It is not yet clear whether he participated actively in the theft or if he simply decided not to increase security measures after discovering it.”
The series of hacks on the exchange took place in 2018, when an estimated 230,000 Bitgrail users lost 17 million Nano worth almost $150 million.
During the investigation, the police also collaborated with the Financial Information Unit of the country’s central bank to discover suspicious crypto transactions. Only three days prior to reporting the theft of Nano, Firano transferred around 230 BTC from the exchange to a company in Malta called The Rock Trading, which he allegedly owns.
Firano did attempt to convert the crypto into fiat, but thanks to the “timely intervention” of the authorities the majority of the funds remain in the company’s accounts.