Suspects plead not guilty in $6-B fraud probe


NEW YORK: Two suspects pleaded not guilty on Thursday (Friday in Manila) in what US authorities say is the largest ever international money laundering prosecution, which targeted a Costa Rica-based digital currency operator.

Vladimir Kats, 41, and Mark Marmilev, 27, both Americans, appeared before Judge Denise Cote in a US federal court in Manhattan.

Along with five others implicated in the case, they worked at Liberty Reserve, which handled huge amounts of money outside the control of national governments and is charged with running a $6-billion money-laundering scheme.

All are charged with conspiracy to commit money-laundering, conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, as well as operation of an unlicensed money transmitting business.

The illegal transactions occurred between 2006 and 2013, according to the indictment.

Five of the seven were arrested in a May 24 roundup launched simultaneously in Costa Rica, Spain and New York, sealing the fate of a company that had been one of the most successful in the popular but increasingly scrutinized world of unofficial banking and virtual currencies.

The other two suspects remain at large.

The probe involved law enforcement in 17 countries and “is believed to be the largest money laundering prosecution in history,” prosecutors said.

The next hearing is scheduled for August 6.



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