The alleged founder of the world’s biggest Torrent site has been arrested

The alleged owner of KickassTorrents (KAT) has been arrested in Poland, and charged with copyright infringement of more than $1 billion’s worth of games, films, music and other protected content.

Artem Vaulin from Ukraine was arrested in Poland, and the US is planning on launching a formal extradition bid so that he can face charges of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

In a pretty jubilant press release from the US Attorney’s Office, assistant attorney general Leslie R Caldwell said: “Vaulin is charged with running today’s most visited illegal file-sharing website, responsible for unlawfully distributing well over $1 billion of copyrighted materials. In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits. His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice.”kickasstorrentslogo

While the copyright charge has a maximum sentence of five years, the money laundering bit is far more serious, and has a maximum sentence of up to 20 years.

The 50-page affidavit includes more surprising details, revealed by Ars Technica. Not only would KAT routinely ignore DMCA takedown notices with deliberately vague reasons (“Your request has been reviewed, but cannot be processed due to one (or more) of the following [5] reasons”), but an IRS agent estimated that the site earned more than $16 million per year in ad revenue from its 50 million monthly users. The agent purchased adverts on the site undercover, and found options ranging from $300 to $3,200 per day. The agent was instructed to send payment to a variety of Eastern European banks with the strict instruction not to mention KAT at any point.

Mutual legal assistance treaties have been used to access foreign bank records. Apple also provided investigators with a copy of Vaulin’s email account, which seems to contain more incriminating information, although the press release is keen to remind people that “the defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt”.

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