BANGKOK -- A Thai court ruled Wednesday that a Russian man who allegedly was part of a gang that stole millions of dollars online from bank accounts can be extradited to the United States to stand trial, but the suspect could end up in Russia anyway.
The court approved a request from U.S. authorities that Dmitry Ukrainsky be extradited to the U.S., where he has been indicted on fraud and money laundering charges. The court said Ukrainsky's group was charged with stealing more than 1 billion baht ($32 million) from victims in the U.S., Australia, Japan, England, Italy and Germany by planting malware on their computers.
However, Ukrainsky's extradition to Russia was previously approved last year by a Thai court after he agreed to return there after he finishes serving a 10-year, 8-month prison term in Thailand for fraud, money laundering and conducting business illegally as a foreigner. He was arrested in July 2016 in the beach resort town of Pattaya, where he ran a yacht rental business, and sentenced in 2017.
His alleged accomplice, Olga Komova from Uzbekistan, was arrested in the beach resort of Koh Chang where she worked at a hotel as a guest relations officer.
It is unclear to which country Ukrainsky would eventually be extradited. In other cases of alleged Russian hackers arrested abroad, usually at a U.S. request, Moscow has strongly opposed them being sent to the United States.
The court said Wednesday said that although Ukrainsky had denied the charges on which he is sought by U.S. authorities, Komova had already been extradited to the United States and was convicted there on the same charges. The court said in its ruling that it had considered evidence from the arresting officers and the U.S. request for Ukrainsky's extradition.
U.S. authorities had been pursuing the case since 2014, when they found multiple suspicious money transfers into bank accounts in Thailand, according to a statement from the court.