Bitcoin exchange Exmo’s kidnapped exec is “safe” but is “in a state of major stress”

Pavel Lerner.
Pavel Lerner.
Image: Linkedin/Pavel Lerner
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Bitcoin exchange Exmo says that it has made contact with Pavel Lerner, a senior leader at the company who was kidnapped on Dec. 26 as he left work in Kiev, Ukraine.

Following his abduction, Exmo’s website suffered a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack on Dec. 28, affecting trading temporarily.

In a statement provided to Quartz today (Dec. 29), a spokesperson said that after three days of no contact, Exmo “managed to get a hold of” Lerner, who is said to be “safe, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him,” before adding, that he “is currently in a state of major stress.”

The company did not respond to further comment on Lerner’s whereabouts.

Here is the full statement from Exmo:

With the recent events in mind, EXMO Cryptocurrency Platform is releasing the official statement on the abduction of Pavel Lerner. Pavel holds a role of a leading analyst at EXMO, and is a blockchain expert who leads an array of personal blockchain startup projects not related to the operations of the EXMO platform.

On December 26, Pavel was captured by a group of unknown masked people, and all the connection with him ceased for several days. On December 29, we managed to get a hold of Pavel. At the moment, he is safe, and there was no physical harm inflicted on him. Nevertheless, Pavel is currently in a state of major stress, therefore, he will not provide any official comments in the coming days. The case is currently under investigation of the state security authorities.

We would like to note that the story of Pavel’s abduction has overgrown with rumors that might tamper with the official investigation. That said, EXMO currently refrains from any comments or suggestions of own versions of the possible scenario, until the end of the investigation.

We would also like to point out that Pavel’s activity at EXMO did not involve any access to financial assets of our users. Despite the aforementioned, the platform continues its usual operations. EXMO team is deeply grateful to the cryptocurrency community and the media for their active support. We promise to timely provide any updates on the situation.

Exmo Finance is registered with Companies House in the UK, with main operations in Ukraine. About 90,000 active users trade cryptocurrencies on its platform.