Pavel Lerner, the CEO of UK-registered bitcoin exchange Exmo who was reportedly kidnapped this week, has been found safe and well in Ukraine. The case is currently under investigation by the state security authorities, a spokesman told Finance Magnates.
EXMO said in a statement that Russian-born Lerner is safe now, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him. He is trying to get through the situation, but is currently in a state of some distress, and will not be providing any official comment in the coming days.
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How the story unravelled …
On December 26, Pavel Lerner, 40, was captured by a group of unknown masked people while leaving his office in Kiev’s Obolon district. Local media reported that he had been pulled into a black Mercedes-Benz by a group of men wearing balaclavas, and all contact from him ceased for several days. On December 29, people at EXMO managed to get hold of Pavel.
An EXMO spokesperson thanked the public and media for their phenomenal support in sharing the appeal to trace the missing analyst. However, she noted that the story of Pavel’s abduction has been complicated by rumors that may tamper with the official investigation. As such, EXMO is currently refraining from any comment or suggestion as to its own version of the events until the investigation is concluded.
Earlier today, EXMO’s PR manager told Finance Magnates that Pavel is an analyst at the exchange (not, as claimed by the majority of media outlets, the CEO or director). She added: “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.”