COSTA RICA NEWS (WSJ) — The former information technology manager of Liberty Reserve, which allegedly created an Internet-based currency to launder money for criminal endeavors, pleaded guilty in connection with his role in maintaining the company’s technology, the Justice Department said.
In 2013, officials brought charges against a group of men who allegedly manufactured the Internet-based currency. Federal prosecutors accused Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve of running a $6 billion money-laundering operation that became a “bank of choice for the criminal underworld.”
Former Liberty Reserve Manager Maxim Chukharev Pleads Guilty to a Conspiracy Charge
The system allegedly was designed to give criminals a way to move money earned from credit-card fraud, online Ponzi schemes, child pornography and other crimes without being detected by law enforcement.
Of seven people charged, three have previously pleaded guilty, the Justice Department said. Earlier this month, the DOJ announced that Liberty Reserve’s former chief technology officer, Mark Marmilev, pleaded guilty to conspiring to operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business.
Mr. Chukharev’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 30.
Virtual currencies, most notably bitcoin, still account for only a tiny fraction of global transactions, but they are being embraced by some Internet merchants and are used in a host of legitimate transactions. Law-enforcement officials are concerned about criminals’ ability to move around money outside the regulated world of banks and traditional money-moving services.