Money laundering ring busted in US

Money laundering ring busted in US

NEW YORK - Agence France-Presse
Money laundering ring busted in US

Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, describes a chart showing the global interests of Liberty Reserve, in New York. AP photo

The United States unveiled May 28 the world’s “largest” money laundering probe targeting the digital currency operator Liberty Reserve, striking a major blow against what a prosecutor termed the “Wild West” of virtual banking.

The Costa Rica-based entity, which handled huge amounts of money outside the control of national governments, is charged with running a “$6 billion money laundering scheme and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business,” the U.S. Attorney’s office for New York said.

Prosecutors said Liberty Reserve processed at least 55 million illegal transactions for at least one million users “and facilitated global criminal conduct.” The probe involved law enforcement in 17 countries and “is believed to be the largest money laundering prosecution in history,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Liberty Reserve’s principals were arrested May 24 in a round-up launched simultaneously in Costa Rica, Spain and New York, sealing the fate of a company that had been one of the most successful in the popular but increasingly scrutinized world of unofficial banking and virtual currencies.

In reality, the organization turned itself into the “financial hub of the cyber-crime world,” the indictment said.