Russian authorities arrest cybersecurity giant Group-IB’s CEO on treason charges

Russian authorities have arrested and detained Ilya Sachkov, the co-founder and chief executive of Group-IB — one of the biggest cybersecurity companies in the country — on charges of treason.

Details about Sachkov’s detention remain unclear but it was reported by Russian media as authorities searched the company’s offices, reports Reuters. State news agency Tass said Sachkov, who was arrested on Tuesday, was charged with allegedly transferring classified information to an unnamed foreign government, claims that Sachkov denied, according to the report.

Group-IB confirmed the arrest of its CEO, but a spokesperson for Group-IB did not comment beyond a statement on the company’s website, which said the company is examining the Moscow court’s decision and that it is “confident” in Sachkov’s innocence.

In the statement, Group-IB said that co-founder Dmitry Volkov will run the company in Sachkov’s absence, who will be detained for at least two months per the court’s order. “All of Group-IB’s divisions will continue operating as usual,” the statement said.

The spokesperson did not comment on the claims made in the Tass news report. A treason conviction can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Sachkov, 35, founded Group-IB in 2003. The company, now headquartered in Singapore, helps companies and governments investigate cyberattacks and online fraud, and has customers ranging from Interpol to Russian banks and defense companies.

In 2018, Group-IB moved its headquarters to Singapore after the U.S. government accused Moscow of meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Sachkov said at the time the company would invest $30 million in the new headquarters and bring on 90 new employees. Sachkov has been critical of the Russian government in the past, and said moving to Singapore is part of the company’s efforts to grow its business and remain independent.

Last year, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed a 2014 indictment of Nikita Kislitsin, which alleged he was involved in a conspiracy to sell credentials stolen from Formspring in 2012 before joining Group-IB’s as its head of network security. U.S. prosecutors did not accuse Group-IB of foul play, but the company defended Kislitsin saying that it had “no findings” that he had engaged in wrongdoing.

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