Arthur Budovsky was sentenced in the Southern District of New York to 20 years imprisonment for running a massive money laundering enterprise through his company Liberty Reserve, a virtual currency once used by cybercriminals around the world to launder the proceeds of their illegal activity. He was also ordered to pay a $500,000 fine.
According to the indictment, Liberty Reserve billed itself as the Internet’s “largest payment processor and money transfer system” and allowed people all over the world to send and receive payments using virtual currency.
At all relevant times, Budovsky directed and supervised Liberty Reserve’s operations, finances, and business strategy and was aware that digital currencies were used by other online criminals, such as credit card traffickers and identity thieves.
Liberty Reserve grew into a financial hub for cybercriminals around the world, trafficking the criminal proceeds of Ponzi schemes, credit card trafficking, stolen identity information and computer hacking.
By May 2013, when the government shut it down, Liberty Reserve had more than 5.5 million user accounts worldwide and had processed more than 78 million financial transactions with a combined value of more than $8 billion.
United States users accounted for the largest segment of Liberty Reserve’s total transactional volume – between $1 billion and $1.8 billion – and the largest number of user accounts – over 600,000.
Four co-defendants, Vladimir Kats, Azzeddine El Amine, Mark Marmilev and Maxim Chukharev, have already pleaded guilty. Marmilev and Chukharev were sentenced to five years and three years in prison, respectively. Judge Cote is expected to sentence Kats and El Amine May 13. Charges remain pending against Liberty Reserve and two individual defendants who are fugitives.