Russia arrests Group-IB CEO Illya Sachkov on reported treason charges

A picture of Group-IB's offices in Moscow. (Group-IB)

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Russian authorities have arrested the head of a prominent cybersecurity firm on charges of treason and will keep him in custody for two months, a Moscow court said Wednesday.

The Lefortovo District Court of Moscow ordered the arrest of Illya Sachkov, the chief executive of Group-IB, on charges of high treason, the Russian news agency TASS reported. Law enforcement also raided the company’s offices in Moscow. While the exact circumstances of the case remain unclear, Sachkov appears to be charged with transferring intelligence data to special services outside Russia, TASS reported.

The CEO has reportedly denied any wrongdoing.

In a statement, the company said it is confident in Sachkov’s innocence, and that co-founder Dmitry Volkov will assume leadership during his detention. The firm declined to comment on the charges, citing “ongoing procedural activities.”

Group-IB works as a global security vendor known in part for its role in investigating international scammers, including specialized email hackers and credit card thieves. The company, with offices in Moscow and Singapore, was awarded by the Kremlin in 2019 “for developments in the field of identifying and preventing cyberthreats.” Sachkov, now 35, previously was included on a Forbes magazine list of notable entrepreneurs under 30 years old.

U.S. prosecutors previously indicted Nikita Kislitsin, Group-IB’s current head of network security, for allegedly conspiring to sell hacked data initially stolen in a hack at the social media company Formspring, as CyberScoop first reported. The two cases appear to be unrelated.

In 2019, a Russian military court convicted another cybersecurity executive, Ruslan Stoyanov, the former chief of the computer incidents investigation team at Kaspersky Lab, of treason. Investigators accused Stoyanov and an associate of passing sensitive information to the FBI, Russian media outlets reported at the time.

Update, 9/29/21: This story was updated to include a statement from Group IB.

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Group-IB, Illya Sachkov, Russia
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