According to an announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, the former chief technology officer (CTO) of Liberty Reserve, Mark Marmilev pleaded guilty before a U.S. District Court Judge.
Liberty Reserve, used to be one of the most used payment channels for forex traders in emerging and frontier markets, before its demise in 2013. The company’s service has been widely used by traders from countries where central banks restrict bank transfers to foreign entities such as Malaysia, Pakistan, Argentina, Nigeria and Brazil. The company has been the preferred payment method.
One of the world’s most widely used payment services allegedly laundered billions and has been involved in suspected criminal proceeds. The company’s CTO pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of New York in relation to his participating in the design and maintenance of the technological infrastructure of Liberty Reserve.
Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said, “Marmilev designed and maintained a massive criminal infrastructure in cyberspace for one of the world’s most widely used digital currency systems, which laundered billions in criminal proceeds.”
He proceeded in his statement explaining, “This is the third conviction in the largest international money laundering case ever brought by the department, and we will continue to ensure that virtual currencies are not misused to facilitate criminals hiding from the U.S. justice system.”
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U.S. Attorney Bharara added to the DOJ statement, “As the chief technology officer of Liberty Reserve, Mark Marmilev was responsible for the infrastructure of a global payment processor and money transfer system that catered largely to criminals. With his guilty plea today, we are one step closer to holding to account everyone integrally involved in this sprawling Internet enterprise that served as a central financial institution for cyber criminals and illegal transactions of numerous kinds.”
The charges brought up in the indictment state that Liberty Reserve was incorporated in Costa Rica in 2006 and was marketing itself as “the largest payment processor and money transfer system.”
According to the allegations, the company was founded to help users conduct illegal transactions anonymously and launder the proceeds of their crimes, emerging 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.
The statement added, “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.”
Before being shut down by the government in May 2013, Liberty Reserve boasted more than one million users worldwide, including about 200,000 users in the U.S. The user base conducted close to 55 million transactions through the payment system amounting to about $6 billion.