Prosecutors described Liberty Reserve as a "financial hub of the cyber crime world ... one of the principal means by which cyber criminals around the world distribute, store and launder proceeds of their illegal activity ... including credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography and narcotics trafficking."
"The scope of the defendants' unlawful conduct is staggering,"
officials said. Over roughly seven years, Liberty Reserve processed 55
million illicit transactions worldwide for 1 million users.
Prosecutors said 45 bank accounts have been restrained or seized.
According to the indictment, three Westpac accounts held in the name of
Technocash Ltd contained $US36.9 million ($A38.4 million).
Virtual currency 'the new money laundering'
The Liberty Reserve money laundering sting is just the tip of the
iceberg and Australia is becoming a key place for online currency crime,
says law enforcement lecturer at Charles Sturt University, Hugh
Five of the seven defendants were arrested last week in a global swoop.
Budovsky, 39, was arrested in Spain, co-founder Vladimir Kats, 41, was
arrested in Brooklyn, New York, while two other defendants, Ahmed
Abdelghani, 42, and Allan Jimenez, 28, remain at large in Costa Rica,
The names of the defendants' attorneys were not immediately available.
"The global enforcement action we announce today is an important step
towards reining in the Wild West of illicit internet banking,"
said Bharara. "As crime goes increasingly global, the long arm of the
law has to get even longer, and in this case, it encircled the earth."
A notice pasted across Liberty Reserve's website on Tuesday morning
said the domain "has been seized by the United States Global Illicit
Financial Team." As of Wednesday morning, the website is no longer
accessible. Attempts to reach Liberty Reserve by phone and email were
not immediately successful.