By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – A wealthy Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to U.S. charges that he participated in an $82 million insider trading scheme that relied on corporate information stolen through hacking.
Vladislav Klyushin, an owner of an information technology company with ties to the Russian government, entered his plea to conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud charges in federal court in Boston. A judge rejected his bail request.
He was extradited from Switzerland last month following his arrest in March. His Swiss lawyer, Oliver Ciric, has said the real reason he was sought was his Russian government ties and that U.S. and British intelligence earlier tried to recruit him.
Prosecutors say Klyushin’s company, M-13, employed an ex-military intelligence officer involved in not just the insider trading plot but also hacking schemes aimed at interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
That person is Ivan Ermakov, also known as Ivan Yermakov, who is wanted by the U.S. government on charges that he and other intelligence officers hacked Democratic Party computer networks before the election. Ermakov remains at large and it was unknown if he had lawyers.
Prosecutors said Klyushin, Ermakov and three others conspired to trade on yet-to-be-announced earnings reports obtained by infiltrating networks of vendors that help companies file reports with securities regulators.
Those companies included IBM Corp, Snap Inc and Tesla Inc. Authorities said the scheme resulted in $82.5 million in trading profits.
Klyushin, 41, had sought to be released from jail on a $2.5 million bond and remain under house arrest in a Boston apartment. But U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler agreed with prosecutors that he posed too great of a risk of flight.
She called Klyushin a “sophisticated foreign national from a country from which he cannot be extradited” whose assets could not be verified but included a nearly $4 million yacht and property in Russia and the UK.
“There are no conditions or combination of conditions that will ensure the appearance of the defendant,” she said.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Grant McCool)