Hacker Accused of JPMorgan Breach Is in ‘Fruitful’ Negotiations With Prosecutors

(Bloomberg) -- A Russian hacker allegedly at the center of the theft of financial data of more than 80 million JPMorgan Chase & Co. clients is in negotiations with U.S. prosecutors to avoid a trial, according to a court filing.

Andrei Tyurin, who was arrested in the Republic of Georgia and extradited to the U.S. last September, is accused of having performed key tasks in the hack of JPMorgan and about a dozen other companies that netted him and his crew hundreds of millions of dollars in illicit proceeds. He remained at large for years as others involved were apprehended and either pleaded guilty or were convicted in trials. His arrest was hailed as a major breakthrough.

Multiple hearings in Tyurin’s case have been rescheduled, and he hasn’t made a public appearance in court since shortly after his arrest, as is often the case when defendants are in plea negotiations.

A hearing scheduled for Tuesday was postponed at the last minute, with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office saying in a court filing Monday: "The parties have been engaging in fruitful negotiations to resolve this matter short of trial, but need additional time to finalize a disposition.”

Tyurin’s lawyer, Florian Meidel, didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment. Though the two sides are in talks, such negotiations are routine in criminal cases, and don’t always result in an agreement.

At the time of the hacks, the breach was so vast that U.S. authorities first suspected it might be a state-sponsored attack, with potential ties to Russia’s intelligence agencies. But they ultimately concluded it was the work of a broad criminal enterprise, with the funds fueling other schemes including stock manipulation, online gambling and money laundering.

The ringleader of the operation, Gery Shalon, was arrested in Tel Aviv in 2015 and extradited to the U.S. Shalon’s court dates, like Tyurin’s, have been repeatedly postponed, and people familiar with the case have said he had been cooperating with U.S. authorities. He and his main co-defendants agreed to a series of deals with authorities to repatriate money stashed in bank accounts in Switzerland, Georgia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Latvia, according to the people.

What information Shalon, and potentially Tyurin, have that could be of value to U.S. authorities remains unclear, but they were at the center of a network that could potentially illuminate links between Russia’s cyber criminals and its spy agencies and international money laundering.

U.S. intelligence agencies had evidence that Russia sought to recruit Tyurin as a hacker, and Georgian authorities have said Moscow tried -- ultimately unsuccessfully -- to have him returned to Russia instead of the U.S.

The case is U.S. v. Shalon, 15-cr-333, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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