Justice Department seizes anonymous banking service Liberty Reserve

By on May 29, 2013, 7:30 AM
banking, justice department, liberty reserve, liberty reserve dollars

The Department of Justice in conjunction with the US Global Illicit Financial Team has shut down one of the largest online banking services in the world. Liberty Reserve went dark on Monday evening – the site has since been replaced by a message saying the domain name was seized in accordance with a seizure warrant obtained by the Attorney’s Office of New York. Authorities believe the service was responsible for laundering more than $6 billion.

The service converted money into an alternative currency known as Liberty Reserve Dollars which could then be exchanged anonymously. As you could imagine, such a service could easily be used for all sorts of illegal activity which is exactly what the indictment claims took place.

According to the document, the site processed over $1.4 billion in transactions per year. Funds were allegedly used to facilitate narcotics trafficking, identity theft and malware fraud via shell companies in Australia, China, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Morocco, Russia and Spain. One hacker reportedly said he would lose around $25,000 due to the shutdown.

It went from bad to worse for founder Arthur Budovsky as he was subsequently arrested in Spain. Budovsky was indicted for illegal money transmittal back in 2006 under a different company called GoldAge. He later renounced his US citizenship and relocated to Costa Rica to start Liberty Reserve. An unnamed citizen of Russian origin was arrested in Costa Rica as well.

The Department of Justice plans to eventually extradite both men to the US to face trial.




User Comments: 18

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spencer spencer said:

What is the difference between this and bitcoin? This is just a little bit disturbing.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

There will never be shortage of evil doers from Russia, the country where money outweighs all values of humanity by a mile, as has been since dark age.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Spencer, in this case the alternative currency was issued by the bank in question, and then transferred anonymously through the bank's services.

Bitcoin is decentralized, there is no issuer, no central bank or Fedral Reserve to chase down and shutter. You can only shutdown the exchanges, but not the bitcoins themselves.

Also, way to paint an entire country with broad strokes, Vitaly.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The service converted money into an alternative currency known as Liberty Reserve Dollars which could then be exchanged anonymously. As you could imagine, such a service could easily be used for all sorts of illegal activity which is exactly what the indictment claims took place.
Justice Department is anti-alternate currency. Bitcoins will be next. Personally I think this is unconstitutional, we should have the right to use what ever has value to others as currency. This is simply a fight to maintain tax control under a false pretense. If they were not loosing money, they wouldn't give a damn.

So they take down a money laundering business. So what, that doesn't do anything to the illegal businesses that use the service. It doesn't matter which currency the business uses, they will continue business as usual. Taking down a money laundering business only increases the chances of circulating currency that is controlled by taxes. They don't care if illegal businesses are shut down, they want illegal business taxed if possible.

If you are going to cut a tree down, do it at the ground. Stop beating the branches which continue to grow back each year. It really does make one look stupid, when they continue to state the main goal is to cut the tree down.

MilwaukeeMike said:

Justice Department is anti-alternate currency. Bitcoins will be next. Personally I think this is unconstitutional, we should have the right to use what ever has value to others as currency. This is simply a fight to maintain tax control under a false pretense. If they were not loosing money, they wouldn't give a damn.

No, I'm pretty sure the justice department cared more about the "narcotics trafficking, identity theft and malware fraud" I don't think the Amazon dollars are going to have a problem.

So they take down a money laundering business. So what, that doesn't do anything to the illegal businesses that use the service. It doesn't matter which currency the business uses, they will continue business as usual. Taking down a money laundering business only increases the chances of circulating currency that is controlled by taxes. They don't care if illegal businesses are shut down, they want illegal business taxed if possible. '

If you are going to cut a tree down, do it at the ground. Stop beating the branches which continue to grow back each year. It really does make one look stupid, when they continue to state the main goal is to cut the tree down.

Maybe, but following the money is an effective way to catch criminals. And I'm sure they'd love to just 'cut down the tree' of all the narcotics and identity theft in the world, but that's a bit tough don't you think? If there were only one giant criminal enterprise that handled all the crime then perhaps they could, but we don't have just one tree to cut down... there are forests spread throughout the world.

misor misor said:

The service converted money into an alternative currency known as Liberty Reserve Dollars which could then be exchanged anonymously. As you could imagine, such a service could easily be used for all sorts of illegal activity which is exactly what the indictment claims took place.
Justice Department is anti-alternate currency. Bitcoins will be next. Personally I think this is unconstitutional, we should have the right to use what ever has value to others as currency. This is simply a fight to maintain tax control under a false pretense. If they were not loosing money, they wouldn't give a damn.

So they take down a money laundering business. So what, that doesn't do anything to the illegal businesses that use the service. It doesn't matter which currency the business uses, they will continue business as usual. Taking down a money laundering business only increases the chances of circulating currency that is controlled by taxes. They don't care if illegal businesses are shut down, they want illegal business taxed if possible.

If you are going to cut a tree down, do it at the ground. Stop beating the branches which continue to grow back each year. It really does make one look stupid, when they continue to state the main goal is to cut the tree down.

if I remember it right:

in the movie "the untouchables" (based on true story), al capone was indicted not due to alleged illegal activities but by tax evasion.

Guest said:

My country's name appeared once in a Techspot article, and it was misspelled. MLIA

Duckula22 Duckula22 said:

I wonder if there's ever a proportional punishment for greed in this life or after.

spencer spencer said:

Spencer, in this case the alternative currency was issued by the bank in question, and then transferred anonymously through the bank's services.

Bitcoin is decentralized, there is no issuer, no central bank or Fedral Reserve to chase down and shutter. You can only shutdown the exchanges, but not the bitcoins themselves.

Also, way to paint an entire country with broad strokes, Vitaly.

I see,In my mind all banks should be in question;Bitcoin is surely genius;I still don't see why the fed reserve wouldn't of framed something on bitcoin by now,almost seems to good to be true.

Guest said:

Btw now in Spain you can buy citizenship for 160.000 euro (by buying a house) and be legalized for life... we need more honest people in Spain :)

PinothyJ said:

You forget that the man behind the currency has history of laundering so there is a pretty good reason to believe he is up to it again...

McNasty said:

Grow up, this is being done to protect the American dollar. The world is watching our dollar as the world reserve currency and as we pile up more & more debt, the strength of the dollar is being questioned. These type of services allow you to move American dollars to other currency outside of the exchange rate. At some point Americans will be barred from using these servers all together as our dollar continues to loose buying power globally.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Grow up, this is being done to protect the American dollar.
That is the last conclusion I would have come to. There is only one thing weakening the value of a dollar. Thats people hording it all, charging overly excessive prices.

Tygerstrike said:

@Mc

Yea youre right, the govt didnt want to stop narcotics and identity theft. <sarcasm off>

Listen, the dollar will be fine. Taking down a site that allowed money laundering from illegal activities was their goal. The American Dollar is not effected by this action in any way. I think your trying to vilefy the govt too quickly. Not everyone who is an American is a crook and not everyone in America is on the take.

Divvet said:

There will never be shortage of evil doers from Russia, the country where money outweighs all values of humanity by a mile, as has been since dark age.

Wow you have just described America as well.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wow you have just described America as well.

Don't stop there! I think it is global.

Guest said:

Don't stop there! I think it is global

I think its Eve's fault, she was to weak to resist The serpent and in turn, seduced Adam

jonelsorel said:

Or maybe they shut it down because they don't take competition (ie. not under their control) ?

"Laundring money"? Give me a break.. Read on :

[link]

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