Bitcoin exchange EXMO's official statement on Pavel Lerner's abduction

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EXMO has 900,000 users as of December 2017, according to its website.

The employee, Pavel Lerner- an analyst at EXMO, a United Kingdom based exchange was reported to have been kidnapped by a group of unidentified people in a black Mercedes Benz while he was leaving work in Kiev, Ukraine on December 26, 2017.

Lerner once headed a department at Kursk State University, and has run a number of startups in Ukraine in the fields of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency mining.

Pavel Lerner, the CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Exmo Finance, has been released from the custody of kidnappers after the payment of a $US1 million bitcoin ransom, according to the Financial Times. Exmo did not immediately return requests for comment from Newsweek confirming the amount.

Paul Lerner  Facebook
Paul Lerner Facebook

"At the moment, he is safe, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him", the statement said. Nevertheless, Pavel is now in a state of major stress, therefore, he will not provide any official comments in the coming days. That said, EXMO now refrains from any comments or suggestions of own versions of the possible scenario, until the end of the investigation.

Exmo said Lerner's kidnapping is now being investigated by the authorities.

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. But a recent spike in bitcoin's value has made it an increasingly attractive target for thieves both off and online. The firm eventually wants to enter new markets, allowing even more users from around the world to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using fiat currency. "We apologize for the temporary inconvenience", the Bitcoin exchange said in a Twitter post.

Exmo was also hit with a DDOS cyber-attack following the kidnapping, which temporarily stopped trading on the platform. It does not appear that any bitcoin was stolen in the attack. The exchange claims that Lerner is a "leading analyst" with the company.

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