Pavel Lerner, 40, managing director of UK-based cryptocurrency exchange EXMO, was kidnapped by unidentified individuals in Kiev, sources close to the country’s law-enforcement agencies told Ukrainian publication Strana.ua.
Lerner was allegedly kidnapped around noon on December 26, while leaving his office situated on the Stepan Bandera Street (formerly known as Moscow Avenue) in the Kiev city center.
Late Tuesday evening, Lerner’s acquaintances filed a missing person report with the Obolons’kyi District Police Department in Kiev.
Video surveillance footage showed unidentified men wearing dark clothes and balaclavas drag Lerner into a black Mercedes-Benz Vito with the license plate number AA 2063 MT.
Multiple investigative actions are being carried out by Ukrainian authorities. At press time, Lerner’s whereabouts remain unknown, and the kidnappers are still unidentified and at large. The abductors have not made contact and no ransom has been demanded as of yet.
Pavel Lerner is a Russian citizen born in Kursk, Russia, and holds a residence permit in Poland. Lerner is involved in a number of cryptocurrency and blockchain startups in Ukraine. Moreover, he is the managing director of cryptocurrency exchange EXMO, a company based in Polegate, England.
EXMO representatives told Ukrainian cryptocurrency news platform ForkLog that the incident has not affected the company’s functioning and that users’ data and funds have not been compromised:
“We are doing everything possible to speed up the search of Pavel Lerner. Any information regarding his whereabouts is very much appreciated. Despite the situation, the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that the nature of Pavel’s job at EXMO doesn’t assume access either to storage or any personal data of users. All users’ funds are absolutely safe.”