INTERNATIONAL CRIME

US money-laundering fugitive faces extradition hearing before Spanish court

Liberty Reserve founder allegedly shifted $6 billion in proceeds from different crimes

Madrid - 26 Jan 2014 - 19:19

Wanted US fugitive Arthur Budovsky, who is facing cybercrime charges related to allegedly money laundering some $6 billion through an internet payment processor and money transfer system, Liberty Reserve, will face an extradition hearing on Monday before the High Court.

Budovsky, the founder of Liberty Reserve, was indicted, along with others, by a US grand jury last May for using the Costa Rican-based company for allegedly laundering proceeds from crimes such as credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography and narcotics trafficking. He was arrested in May at Barajas international airport along with his financial accounts manager Azzeddine El Amine, a Moroccan who is also named in the grand jury indictment.

Both men have been in prison in Madrid since May 29 when High Court Judge Pablo Ruz ordered them held in custody until their extraditions are resolved.

Their arrests came after one of the biggest law enforcement crackdowns ever conducted by authorities in 17 countries. According to the US Justice Department, it is also believed to be the biggest money-laundering prosecutions ever.

Budovsky, a US citizen of Ukrainian extraction, is expected to fight his extradition, judicial sources said. He reportedly paid a Costa Rican woman to marry him so he could obtain her country’s nationality.

Liberty Reserve, which has since been shut down, is alleged to have had more than one million users worldwide, including more than 200,000 users in the US, who conducted approximately 55 million transactions – virtually all of which were illegal – and laundered more than $6 billion in suspected proceeds, according federal prosecutors in New York where Budovsky and four others were indicted.

US authorities came to Spain to investigate Budovsky’s activities, including accounts he and El Amine both held at Spanish banks.

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