A kidnapped crypto executive was reportedly released after paying a $1 million bitcoin ransom

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  • The CEO of a UK-registered cryptocurrency exchange Exmo Finance has reportedly been released from the custody of his kidnappers after a $1 million bitcoin ransom payment, according to a report from the Financial Times.
  • Pavel Lerner was reportedly kidnapped while leaving the company's Kiev offices.

Pavel Lerner, the CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Exmo Finance, has been released from the custody of kidnappers after the payment of a $1 million bitcoin ransom, according to the Financial Times.

Lerner, 40, was reportedly dragged into a black Mercedes-Benz by men in balaclavas while leaving the Kiev offices of his company on December 26, according to local media reports.

The FT reported Friday that Lerner was "released in a state of shock," according to Anton Gerashchenko, a Ukrainian adviser.

"We have operative information that he paid more than $1 million worth of bitcoins," Gerashchenko said.

The exchange business Lerner runs is registered in the UK and also has a presence in Spain, Russia, India, and Thailand, according to the Telegraph.

The anonymity of bitcoin and its eye-popping gain of more than 1,300% this year have made it a darling of criminals and the so-called dark web.

The Italian mafia has used bitcoin to launder money for its illicit activities, for instance, and the notorious WannaCry hackers extorted over $140,000 worth of the cryptocurrency from their malware victims.

Since transactions on bitcoin's blockchain network are decentralized and anonymous, the cryptocurrency provides an attractive option for criminals looking to conduct business outside of the watchful eye of government officials.

Read the full FT report>>

Oscar Williams-Grut contributed reporting.

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