[QODLink]
Americas

US says major money-laundering ring busted

Indictment filed against operators of digital currency exchange for their role in illicit funds linked to bank hacking.

Last Modified: 29 May 2013 10:43
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
A lawyer called the racket 'the largest international money-laundering case ever brought by the US' [EPA]

US prosecutors have filed an indictment against the operators of digital currency exchange Liberty Reserve, accusing the Costa Rica-based company of helping criminals around the world launder more than $6bn.

The money came from illicit funds linked to everything from child pornography to software for hacking into banks.

The indictment unsealed on Tuesday said Liberty Reserve had more than a million users worldwide, including at least 200,000 in the US, and virtually all of its business was related to suspected criminal activity.

Preet Bharara, a US lawyer, called the case perhaps "the largest international money-laundering case ever brought by the United States".

"Liberty Reserve has emerged as one of the principal means by which cyber-criminals around the world distribute, store and launder the proceeds of their illegal activity," according to the indictment filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Officials said authorities in Spain, Costa Rica and New York arrested five people on Friday, including the company's founder, Arthur Budovsky, and seized bank accounts and internet domains associated with Liberty Reserve.

The indictment detailed a system of payments that allowed users to open accounts under false names such as "Russia Hackers" and "Hacker Account".

The use of digital currency has expanded over the past decade, attracting users ranging from video gamers looking for ways to buy and sell virtual goods to those who lack faith in the traditional banking system.

Touted by some investors as the future of money, these virtual currencies have gained the attention of US regulators looking to bring them under anti-money laundering rules.

The US treasury said on Tuesday it named Liberty Reserve under the USA Patriot Act as "specifically designed and frequently used to facilitate money laundering in cyber space".

291

Source:
Reuters
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.