The sudden death of the owner of the Wagner private military company (PMC), Yevgeny Prigozhin, stirred rumors that he possessed one of the most significant Bitcoin (BTC) wallets. We delve into how Prigozhin and his organization might have connections to the cryptocurrency community.
The Event Unfolds
On the evening of August 23, news of a plane crash in the Tver region spread across Telegram channels and media outlets. The plane was reportedly carrying Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of Wagner, and its commander, Dmitry Utkin. The crash claimed the lives of all 10 people on board.
The BBC reported that the victims have been tentatively identified. Authorities have launched an investigation into the crash involving Yevgeny Prigozhin.
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Prigozhin’s Alleged Ties to Cryptocurrency
Amid the news of the plane crash, claims surfaced online suggesting Yevgeny Prigozhin controlled one of the most substantial cryptocurrency wallets. The wallet reportedly held around 100,000 Bitcoin (valued at approximately $2.6 billion at the current price).
Around 70% of this stash is believed to be in cold wallets. The remainder appears to be spread between crypto exchanges Binance and BTC-W.
To put this in perspective, the third largest Bitcoin wallet holds 118,300 coins, and the fifth largest has 94,643 BTC. Thus, if Prigozhin indeed held 100,000 coins, he would rank among the top five largest Bitcoin holders.
Although there isn’t concrete evidence to validate Prigozhin’s involvement in cryptocurrency transactions or his possession of such a vast wallet, circumstantial factors hint at his potential interest in digital assets.
Why Bitcoin Might Interest Prigozhin
As a result, major financial entities, including Visa and Mastercard, withdrew from Russia, constraining cross-border transactions. Consequently, many Russians considered cryptocurrency as a viable workaround.
In July 2023, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly designated PMC Wagner as a terrorist entity. Even before this classification, the company’s legal standing sparked debates, potentially jeopardizing its financial undertakings.
Though Wagner allegedly paid mercenaries in cash, the PMC shifted operations to Russia and Belarus after the mutiny in June 2023, where physical currency transactions remained feasible. However, given Wagner’s known presence in Africa, cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, might facilitate smoother, long-distance financial transactions, given its prevalence in shadow markets.
Importantly, with the right security precautions, Bitcoin can facilitate anonymous transactions, making it a preferred currency in the darknet. BeInCrypto’s editorial team discovered various products available for purchase with Bitcoin on the darknet.
It’s worth noting that the uprising involving Wagner in June 2023 saw a surge in stablecoin purchases among Russians.
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