Costa Rican Pleads Guilty To Money Laundering

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Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, describes charges against Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve, one of the worlds largest digital currency companies and seven of it’s principals and employees for allegedly running a $6 billion money laundering scheme at a news conference in New York, May 28, 2013.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 15, 2014: A 47-year-old Costa Rican national has pleaded guilty to money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

According to allegations contained in the indictment and statements made in related court proceedings, Azzeddine El Amine, of San José, Costa Rica, in his role as a principal deputy Liberty Reserve, a company that operated one of the world’s most widely used digital currency services, helped users conduct illegal transactions anonymously and launder the proceeds of their crimes, and it emerged as one of the principal money transfer agents used by cybercriminals around the world to distribute, store, and launder the proceeds of their illegal activity.

El Amine was arrested in Madrid, Spain, in May 2013, and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, one count of conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.

Liberty Reserve was founded by Arthur Budovsky El Amine and operated a prominent Liberty Reserve “exchanger” service, through which he shared in Liberty Reserve’s profits with Budovsky, the indictment said.

Before being shut down by the government in May 2013, Liberty Reserve had more than one million users worldwide, including more than 200,000 users in the United States, who conducted approximately 55 million transactions through its system and laundered more than $6 billion in suspected proceeds of crimes, including credit

Liberty Reserve was used extensively for illegal purposes, functioning as the bank of choice for the criminal underworld because it provided an infrastructure that enabled cybercriminals around the world to conduct anonymous and untraceable financial transactions, federal authorities said.