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Pavel Lerner, who runs the Exmo exchange and is a locally-renowned cryptocurrency expert, was kidnapped near his office in Kiev on Tuesday but freed on Thursday, Anton Gerashchenko, the Ukrainian adviser, said.
“He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting bitcoins,” Mr Gerashchenko told the Financial Times, adding: “We have operative information that he paid more than $1m worth of bitcoins.”
He said Mr Lerner was held for one and a half days, “then released in a state of shock. ... He got very lucky that he remained alive.”
Exmo Finance, which is registered in the UK with Companies House but also has operations in Ukraine, is one of more than 400 unregulated exchanges that have sprung up across the globe to cater for crypto capital markets.