A French court on Monday sentenced a Russian to five years in prison for money laundering, but cleared him of an original charge of defrauding nearly 200 people using ransomware.
Prosecutors had said that Alexander Vinnik sent emails to his targets masquerading as invoices, whose attached document, when opened, activated malware that shut down the computer and encrypted its contents.
A message would appear on the hacked computer with instructions to pay a ransom in the online currency bitcoin to regain control of the machine.
Among the 188 victims of the attacks — which happened between 2016 and 2018 — were local authorities, businesses and individuals in France.
The prosecution had accused Vinnik of making 135 million euros ($164 million) from these attacks, and called for a 10-year sentence against the 41-year-old when the trial opened in October.
But the court cleared him of the randomware attack charges.
“All these accusations have collapsed because Alexander Vinnik had nothing to do with them,” said one of his lawyers, Frederic Belot.
The court did, however, find him guilty of laundering the money extorted through the attacks in which a software called Locky was used. In addition to the prison sentence, he was fined 100,000 euros ($121,000).