Russian hacker faces decades in prison

In this July 11, 2014 file photo, Valery Seleznev, a prominent Russian lawmaker and the father of Roman Seleznev who was arrested on bank fraud and other charges earlier this week in the United States, speaks to the media during a news conference in Moscow, Russia. (AP))
Updated 21 April 2017
0

Russian hacker faces decades in prison

SEATTLE: US federal prosecutors want the Russian man convicted of hacking into US businesses to steal credit card data to be sentenced to 30 years in prison and ordered to pay $170 million in restitution.
But Roman Seleznev’s lawyers say his troubled history, poor health and willingness to help the government catch other cybercriminals should be considered when deciding his sentence.
Friday’s sentencing hearing in US District Court in Seattle was expected to last several hours.
Seleznev, the son of a member of the Russian Parliament, was first indicted in 2011 on 29 felony charges and was captured in 2014. US Secret Service agents, with the help of local police, arrested Seleznev in the Maldives as he and his girlfriend arrived at the airport on their way back to Russia. The agents flew him by private jet to Guam, where he made his first court appearance, and then to Seattle, where he was placed in federal custody.
The indictment grew to 40 counts in October 2014 and his trial was held in August 2016. The jury found him guilty on 38 charges, including nine counts of hacking and 10 counts of wire fraud.
“Seleznev enriched himself by these activities and lived an extravagant lifestyle at the expense of small, hard-working business owners who saw their businesses either damaged or destroyed as a result of Seleznev’s attacks,” federal prosecutors said in their pre-sentence memo to the judge.
“His victims include over 3,700 different financial institutions, over 500 businesses around the world and millions of individual credit card holders.”
His prosecution is “unprecedented,” the deputy US attorneys who worked on the case told the judge.
“Never before has a criminal engaged in computer fraud of this magnitude been identified, captured and convicted by an American jury,” they said. That is why his sentence should reflect the severity of his crime, they said.
“There is tremendous public interest in deterring cybercrime,” prosecutors said.
Seleznev’s lawyer, Igor Litvak, told the judge that leniency is appropriate. Seleznev has accepted responsibility for his crimes and deeply regrets that his actions caused financial losses to various victims, Litvak said.
“Moreover, he wants to actively rectify the consequences of his criminal actions and to use his knowledge and experience to prevent new cyber-attacks perpetrated by others,” Litvak said.
To prove his commitment to helping fight cybercrime, he recently arranged to give the US government four of his laptops and six flash drives, and has met with officials to discuss hacker activities, Litvak said.
Seleznev’s life story should also be considered, his lawyer said.
His parents divorced when he was 2 years old; his alcoholic mother died when he was 17; he suffered a severe head injury in a terrorist bombing in Morocco in 2011, causing his doctors to say he may not recover; his wife divorced him while he was in a coma, Litvak told the judge.
He continues to suffer after-effects from the bombing, including seizures, Litvak said. Medical experts say there’s a high risk of “progressive impairment of his cognitive functions” and he must be monitored by specialized medical staff, he said.


Indonesia jails former parliament speaker for 15 years over graft

Updated 37 min 35 sec ago
0

Indonesia jails former parliament speaker for 15 years over graft

JAKARTA: An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced the former speaker of parliament, Setya Novanto, to 15 years in jail for his role in causing state losses of around $170 million, linked to a national electronic identity card scheme.
The case has shocked Indonesians, already used to large corruption scandals and has reinforced a widely held perception that their parliament, long regarded as riddled with corruption, is a failing institution.
“The defendant is found guilty of conspiring to commit corruption and is sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 500 million rupiah,” Yanto, the head of a panel of five judges, told the Jakarta court. The fine is equivalent to $36,000.
Novanto would be barred from holding public office for five years after serving his sentence and have to repay $7.3 million he was accused of plundering, added the judge, who goes by one name.
In a session that ran for more than three hours, judges read out dozens of case notes, including descriptions of where the former speaker held meetings to divvy up cash made from a mark-up on a contract for the identity card.
Novanto showed little emotion as the judge read the verdict.
After a quick consultation with his legal team, he told the court he would take some time to consider whether to appeal the sentence.
Novanto is accused of orchestrating a scheme to steal $173 million, or almost 40 percent of the entire budget for a government contract for the national identity card.
Prosecutors, who had questioned 80 witnesses in the case, had sought a jail term of at least 16 years for the former speaker.
Novanto, who had been implicated in five graft scandals since the 1990s but never convicted, was detained by investigators last November after repeatedly missing summonses for questioning over the case, saying he needed heart surgery.
Indonesians have to contend with high levels of graft in many areas of their lives and the country placed 96th among 180 countries in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index last year, on par with Colombia and Thailand.