The man believed to be behind Kickass Torrents (KAT), the world’s most visited peer-to-peer file sharing site, has been arrested in Poland.
Artem Vaulin, a 30-year-old Ukrainian national, has been charged by the US with money laundering and infringing copyright.
The Justice Department will now seek his extradition to the US, where he will face charges.
A federal court in Chicago also ordered the seizure of one bank account and seven domain names associated with the alleged KAT conspiracy.
It is believed that Kickass Torrents has been used to exchange copyrighted material valued at over $1 billion since it was founded in 2008.
The Department claims that KAT receives over 50 million unique visitors per month. It currently hosts popular films that are still in the cinema, such as ‘Captain America: Civil War,’ ‘Now You See Me 2,’ ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ and ‘Finding Dory’.
The Department’s complaint says KAT’s net worth has been estimated at more than $54 million, with estimated annual advertising revenue in the range of $12.5 million to $22.3 million.
It also says that KAT has moved its domains several times and has been ordered blocked by courts in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Belgium and Malaysia.
Vaulin was allegedly responsible in designing KAT’s original website and overseeing KAT’s operations. During the latter part of the conspiracy, Vaulin is accused of operating KAT under the auspices of a Ukrainian-based front company called Cryptoneat.
“Copyright infringement exacts a large toll, a very human one, on the artists and businesses whose livelihood hinges on their creative inventions,” said U.S. Attorney Fardon. “Vaulin allegedly used the Internet to cause enormous harm to those artists.”
Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said: “In an effort to evade law enforcement, Vaulin allegedly relied on servers located in countries around the world and moved his domains due to repeated seizures and civil lawsuits.
“His arrest in Poland, however, demonstrates again that cybercriminals can run, but they cannot hide from justice,” he added ominously.