A manager at Liberty Reserve, a digital currency outfit described by authorities as the criminal underworld's "bank of choice", has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges.
At a hearing in Manhattan, Azzeddine El Amine, from Costa Rica, pleaded guilty to money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.
Incorporated in Costa Rica in 2006, Liberty Reserve is alleged to have laundered more than $6 billion in criminal proceeds over the years. The service had more than one million users around the world, who made around 55 million transactions through its systems, laundering proceeds from crime including credit card fraud, identity theft, computer hacking, child abuse, and narcotics trafficking.
In an international operation in May 2013, authorities shut down the service and arrested several people, among them principle founder Arthur Budovsky and his principle deputy, El Amine, who were both picked up in Spain.
El Amine is now cooperating with authorities in a move that will be taken into account when he is sentenced. A Liberty Reserve o-founder, Vladimir Kats, cut a similar deal last year. Budovsky remains in Spain fighting extradition while two others, Mark Marmilev and Maxim Chukharev, are scheduled to face trial next year.