An analytics manager for Exmo Bitcoin exchange was kidnapped in Kiev when he left his office this week, according to a report.
40-year-old Pavel Lerner, who the BBC describes as a “prominent Russian blockchain expert,” was reportedly “dragged into a black Mercedes-Benz by men wearing balaclavas.”
“We are doing everything possible to speed up the search for Pavel Lerner,” claimed Exmo spokesman Anatoliy Larin to the BBC. “Despite the situation the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that nature of Pavel’s job at Exmo doesn’t assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users’ funds are absolutely safe.”
In an official statement posted on Friday, Exmo claimed that after several days of no communication with Pavel, they “managed to get a hold” of him and confirmed his safety.
“On December 29, we managed to get a hold of Pavel. At the moment, he is safe, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him. Nevertheless, Pavel is currently in a state of major stress, therefore, he will not provide any official comments in the coming days,” they continued. “The case is currently under investigation of the state security authorities. We would like to note that the story of Pavel’s abduction has overgrown with rumors that might tamper with the official investigation. That said, EXMO currently refrains from any comments or suggestions of own versions of the possible scenario, in the nearest future.”
“We would also like to point out that Pavel’s activity at EXMO did not involve an access to financial assets of our users. Despite the aforementioned, the platform continues its usual operations,” the company concluded. “EXMO team is deeply grateful to the cryptocurrency community and the media for their active support. We promise to timely provide any updates on the situation.”
Exmo was also hit with a DDOS cyber-attack following the kidnapping, which temporarily stopped trading on the platform.
EXMO is under the DDoS attack.
The site will be available within half an hour.
We apologize for the temporary inconvenience.
Sincerely, The EXMO Team
— EXMO (@Exmo_Com) December 28, 2017
On Friday, the Financial Times reported that Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister, told the outlet that Lerner was “released after paying a ransom of more than $1m in bitcoins.”