Future Tense

Report: Prominent Russian Blockchain Expert “Safe” After Being Kidnapped

The Exmo bitcoin exchange has around 95,000 active users.

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Update, Dec. 29, 3:05 p.m.: Exmo released a statement indicating that the company “managed to get a hold of Pavel” after his abduction. The statement further reads that Pavel is safe and suffered no physical harm, though he is “currently in a state of major stress.” Authorities are still investigating the incident.

Original story: Pavel Lerner, the senior manager of the Exmo bitcoin exchange, was kidnapped by unknown assailants on Tuesday, according to Russian and Ukrainian news outlets. Local reports say that a group of men covering their faces with balaclavas dragged him into a black Mercedes-Benz. Police in Kiev, Ukraine, where the incident allegedly took place, confirmed to the BBC that a man had indeed been kidnapped, though they would not release his identity.

The BBC also referred to Lerner as a “prominent” blockchain expert. Blockchain is the technology that underlies bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Exmo is an exchange with about 95,000 active users in more than 200 countries. It is registered with the U.K. Companies House, though its main operations are located in Ukraine. Two days after the kidnapping, the exchange disclosed on Twitter that it was the victim of a DDoS attack.

An Exmo spokesperson also sent a statement to Quartz:

We are doing everything possible to speed up the search of Pavel Lerner. Any information regarding his whereabouts is very much appreciated. We are kindly asking you to email to bd@exmo.com in case you are aware of any facts that might help the investigation. 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.