Three Weeks, Three Dead Crypto Titans—What's Going on Here?

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Amidst all the drama over the Sam Bankman-Fried/FTX cryptocurrency disaster and his subsequent arrest and incarceration, more than one person on social media and even in our comments section has joked that Bankman-Fried (also referred to as SBF) may go the way of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein—namely have his life extinguished in a suspicious suicide. It is true that there are a lot of politicians, celebrities, and financiers with egg on their faces right now, and they certainly wouldn’t mind this problem disappearing.


I won’t speculate on SBF’s fate, or how the cameras suddenly failed at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York right outside Epstein’s cell in 2019—even though he was their highest-profile inmate at the time. But while I was studying up on crypto to write about our newest mega-scammer, I came across an odd coincidence: three crypto titans all died under odd circumstances within a three-week period this fall.

If you already knew about this, you win the News Junkie Award of the Day. Your prize is in the mail. Despite being a rather voracious news consumer, I missed it entirely.

To wit:

Vyacheslav Taran, the co-founder of trading and investment platform Libertex and Forex Club, died in a helicopter crash near Monaco on November 29. His companies experienced both success and allegations of investor fraud. The 53-year-old father of three was traveling with just the pilot, although radio network France Bleu reported that a second passenger had been scheduled to fly with them, but canceled at the last minute. Hmm.


As the Ronco ads famously said, “Wait! There’s more!” Tiantian Kullander, the founder of the digital currency trading platform Amber Group, valued at $3 billion, died unexpectedly in his sleep on November 23, according to the company. Sounds normal—except that he was 30 years old.

Meanwhile, Nikolai Mushegian, co-founder of cryptocurrency lending platform MakerDAO, drowned in a Puerto Rican lake just hours after tweeting that he suspected U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies were plotting to kill him. His family reportedly does not suspect foul play because he has a history of mental issues.

This story—or stories—bears a profound resemblance to an article I wrote in September: eight Russian oil executives, most of them linked to state-owned giant Gazprom, died in mysterious circumstances in 2022. One fell out of a window (um, sure), one was found hanged in Spain while his wife and daughter were stabbed to death, and several others were deemed suicides. One or two might be explainable, but eight?


There are some crazy conspiracy theories floating around Twitter, and I’m not going to go into them here. I don’t totally discount them, however—who would have ever believed Jeffrey Epstein, a successful and influential billionaire who had the ears of the elite, would turn out to be a pedophile sex trafficker?


I don’t know what’s going on here, but logic dictates that something is. Eleven successful, prominent Russian men in the prime years of their lives perished for one reason or another. One can credibly conjecture that Vladimir Putin is just ordering assassinations on people who annoy him, but that’s just speculation.

One thing is for sure, I may not be a billionaire, but I’m glad I’m not a Russian gas exec or crypto king right now.


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