Halloween Day Guilty Plea For Liberty Reserve Figure Vladimir Kats

ponzinews1Before Liberty Reserve and its alleged co-conspirators were indicted in May, the company was involved in several horror-filled propositions. These included laundering $6 billion as part of schemes involving “credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography, and narcotics trafficking,” federal prosecutors said.

Now, Liberty Reserve figure Vladimir Kats, also known as “Ragnar,” has pleaded guilty to multiple crimes. The plea occurred yesterday: Halloween Day.

Liberty Reserve, prosecutors said, set the stage for criminals to thrive and functioned as “as the bank of choice for the criminal underworld because it provided an infrastructure that enabled cybercriminals to conduct anonymous and untraceable financial transactions.”

“Vladimir Kats, by his own admission, helped to create and operate an anonymous digital currency system that provided cybercriminals and others with the means to launder criminal proceeds on an unprecedented scale,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman. “His conviction reinforces what we said when Liberty Reserve was first brought down: banking systems that allow criminals to conduct illegal transactions anonymously will not be allowed to stand, and professional money launderers will be brought to justice.”

It all added up to danger and created “an international den of cybercrime,” added U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York.

“As a co-founder and operator of Liberty Reserve, Vladimir Kats served as a global banker for criminals, giving them an anonymous, online forum to hide the proceeds of their illegal and dangerous activities,” Bharara said.

Kats, 41, of Brooklyn, N.Y., potentially faces decades in federal prison. No sentencing date has been sent.

From a statement by prosecutors (italics added):

Kats was arrested in Brooklyn in May 2013 and pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiring to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; one count of conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of operating an unlicensed money transmitting business, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of receiving child pornography, which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison; and one count of marriage fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

Charges remain pending against Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky and alleged co-conspirators Ahmed Yassine Abdelghani, Allan Esteban Hildago Jimenez, Azzeddine El Amine, Mark Marmilev and Maxim Chukharev, prosecutors said.

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