A Russian billionaire has become just the latest cryptocurrency figure to die under bizarre circumstances in recent weeks.
Forex Club founder Vyacheslav Taran, the president of the Libertex Group trading platform, was the sole passenger on a Monacair helicopter that crashed near the French town of Villefranche-sur-Mer over the weekend.
Taran, 53, had taken off from Lausanne in Switzerland en route to Monaco with an experienced 35-year-old pilot before the aircraft went down. The chopper crashed into a hillside in good weather, local reports said.
Adding to the mystery, the France Bleu network reported that another passenger had canceled at the last minute, though no details were immediately available on who that passenger was.
Curiously, one traditionally pro-Kremlin Russian news outlet reacted to news of Taran’s death with an article noting he had “enemies in Russia.”
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the crash, according to local media reports.
“It is with great sadness that Libertex Group confirms the death of its co-founder and Chairman of Board of Directors, Vyacheslav Taran, after a helicopter crash that took place en route to Monaco on Friday, 25 November 2022,” Libertex, which bills itself as a leader in cryptocurrency trading, said in a statement.
The Russian embassy in Paris also confirmed Taran’s death, and said representatives were in touch with his family, according to the TASS news agency.
Born in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East, Taran had resided in Monaco for the last several years, where he was well-known in the fintech industry. His death has made waves in Russia, where he founded Forex Club in 1997 before it went on to become one of the three largest forex dealers in the country and later launched the trading platform Libertex.
“The businessman earned millions of dollars not even as a trader, but by actively involving Russian citizens in currency speculation, promising them fabulous incomes with minimum investments,” Life.ru wrote. “No one knows how much money was pulled out of the wallets of Russian citizens in reality,” the news outlet wrote, speculating that “this is why Taran had many dissatisfied clients and enemies in Russia, who could have very well gotten to him abroad.”
Russia’s Central Bank pulled the licenses of Forex Club and several other forex dealers in the country in 2018, reportedly because the companies’ subsidiaries lured clients to offshore companies.
Taran’s death comes amid a string of fatal accidents involving cryptocurrency leaders.
Tiantian Kullander, the founder of Amber Group, died suddenly in his sleep last week at the age of 30. Just a few weeks earlier, 29-year-old cryptocurrency developer Nikolas Mushegian was found dead on a Puerto Rico beach in what was found to be a drowning.