Arthur Budovsky, the co-founder of the online underworld bank , was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The man had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit money laundering. He was condemned to have laundered money for several criminal activities, including child pornography, credit card fraud and drug sale.
Budovsky, who was arrested in Spain in May 2013, he tried to avoid prosecution by acquiring Costa Rica nationality.
It has been estimated that the Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve processed more than $8 billion worth of transactions for more than 5.5 million users worldwide in the period from 2015 to 2013 when it was shut down by law enforcement. According to the US Department of Justice more than 600,000 users were in the United States.
“The significant sentence handed down today shows that money laundering through the use of virtual currencies is still money laundering, and that online crime is still crime,” Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said in a statement.
“Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky ran a digital currency empire built expressly to facilitate money laundering on a massive scale for criminals around the globe,” US Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York was quoted as saying.
Budovsky was also ordered to pay a $500,000 fine by US District Judge Denise L. Cote.
Criminals used Liberty Reserve used the popular service as a financial hub that allowed them to operate anonymously.
Budovsky confirmed with the authorities to have laundered roughly $550 million in transactions made by US-based Liberty Reserve accounts.
The man was not alone, other six people face charges in the case, the accomplices Maxim Chukharev and Mark Marmilev were sentenced to three and five years respectively.
Others two accomplices are set to be sentenced next week and another two remain at large.
(Security Affairs – Liberty Reserve, crime)