Yet another high-profile crypto tycoon has died in mysterious circumstances, taking the tally of questionable crypto-related deaths to three in less than a month.
As reported by the Daily Mail, Russian billionaire Vyacheslav Taran was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed near Monaco. According to the Mail, the crash happened in good weather and another unnamed would-be passenger canceled their journey at the last minute.
Reports in Ukrainian media have previously alleged that Taran, who was co-founder of trading and investment platform Libertex and foreign exchange trading group Forex Club, had ties to the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and had laundered Russian funds using various crypto operations.
However, in a statement released to Protos, Taran’s family hit back at these claims, calling them “completely unfounded fabrications and outright lies.”
“We categorically deny that he was involved in any way with the Russian Intelligence services or the Russian government in any capacity and we also categorically deny that he was involved in money laundering for Russian “elites” or in any other illegal activity,” reads the statement.
The statement also disputes the idea that Taran’s death is suspicious. The family told Protos that “everyone should wait until the investigation is fully completed before jumping to conclusions or speculating about crazy conspiracy theories.”
The crypto death tally keeps rising
Taran is just the latest crypto-focused entrepreneur to die mysteriously in recent weeks.
Just last week, the founder of Hong Kong-based digital asset company Amber Group Tiantian Kullander died suddenly in his sleep. The 30-year-old had built the company into a $3 billion ‘fintech unicorn.’
A month before Kullander’s death, MakerDAO developer and crypto millionaire Nikolai Mushegian apparently drowned in Puerto Rico. The tech whizzkid was said to suffer from various mental health problems and just hours before his death he tweeted a number of conspiracy-themed messages foretelling his own demise.
“CIA and Mossad and pedo elite are running some kind of sex trafficking entrapment blackmail ring out of Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands,” read one tweet. “They are going to frame me with a laptop planted by my ex [girlfriend] who was a spy. They will torture me to death.”
The 29-year-old was reportedly found wearing his clothes and with his wallet on him.
Back in July 2021, the crypto industry was rocked by the news that controversial Romanian crypto billionaire Mircea Popescu — also known as ‘the father of bitcoin toxicity‘ — had drowned in Costa Rica.
The 41-year-old, who had made a reputation for peppering his lengthy blog posts with racist and sexist slurs, was an early bitcoin adopter and reportedly left $2 billion worth of crypto behind when he died. According to press reports, this stash may be lost forever as not even Popescu’s close family have access to it.
And, of course, everybody in crypto knows about perhaps the space’s most notorious death. Back in December 2018, QuadrigaCX founder Gerald Cotten died in India while on his honeymoon. Cotten had reportedly signed a will just days before his death and was the only person with access to a crypto fortune worth millions. The circumstances surrounding his death garnered so much attention that Netflix turned the story into a documentary.
To this day, Cotten’s nearly $170 million fortune is still unaccounted for, leading many to speculate that he faked his death and is in hiding.
Despite police, family, and friends usually coming forward to clarify that none of the deaths were suspicious, this is seldom enough to prevent outlandish conspiracy theories from springing up.
Mushegian’s mysterious drowning, for example, gave rise to a number of theories that he had been targeted by a murderous banking cartel, Mossad, or a pedophile ring.
Update 12:55 UTC, Dec 26: Updated the piece to reflect Taran’s family’s objections to claims he was connected to the Russian secret service or involved in illegal activity.