"Calling it perhaps the biggest money-laundering scheme in U.S. history, federal prosecutors charged seven people Tuesday with running what amounted to an online, underworld bank that handled $6 billion for drug dealers, child pornographers, identity thieves and other criminals around the globe.
The case was aimed at Liberty Reserve, a currency-transfer and payment-processing company based in Costa Rica that authorities say allowed customers to move money anonymously from one account to another via the Internet with almost no questions asked.
U.S. officials said the enterprise was staggering in scope. The probe involved law enforcement in 17 countries “and is believed to be the largest money laundering prosecution in history,” the prosecutor’s office said. Over roughly seven years, Liberty Reserve processed 55 million illicit transactions worldwide for 1 million users, including 200,000 in the U.S. The network "became the bank of choice for the criminal underworld," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.