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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 12, 2014

Chief Technology Officer Of Liberty Reserve Sentenced In Manhattan Federal Court To Five Years In Prison

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, announced that MARK MARMILEV was sentenced today to five years in prison for conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business that he knew involved the transmission of funds derived from criminal activity. MARMILEV was principally responsible for designing and maintaining the technological infrastructure for Liberty Reserve, a company that operated one of the world’s most widely used digital currency services. MARMILEV pled guilty in September 2014 before U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote, who also imposed today’s sentence.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Mark Marmilev spent years designing and maintaining the technological architecture that allowed Liberty Reserve to operate a global payment processor and money transfer system that catered to criminals. Now, he will pay for that crime with five years in federal prison. ”

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said: “Marmilev used his tech savvy to create a virtual currency business that was used extensively by criminals throughout the world. He and Liberty Reserve’s founders boasted they were outside the reach of U.S. law enforcement, and he couldn’t have been more wrong. His prison sentence shows that those who hide their illegal activities from the scrutiny of the Justice Department will be caught and will go to prison.”

According to allegations contained in the Indictment filed against Liberty Reserve, MARMILEV, and six other individual defendants, and statements made in other documents filed in Manhattan federal court and related court proceedings:

Liberty Reserve was incorporated in Costa Rica in 2006 and billed itself as the Internet’s “largest payment processor and money transfer system.” Liberty Reserve was created, structured, and operated to help users conduct illegal transactions anonymously and launder the proceeds of their crimes. It emerged as one of the principal money transfer agents used by cybercriminals around the world to distribute, store, and launder the proceeds of their illegal activity. Liberty Reserve was used extensively for illegal purposes, functioning as the bank of choice for the criminal underworld because it provided an infrastructure that enabled cybercriminals around the world to conduct anonymous and untraceable financial transactions.

Before being shut down by the U.S. government in May 2013, Liberty Reserve had more than five million user accounts worldwide, including more than 600,000 accounts associated with users in the United States, and processed tens of millions of transactions through its system, totaling more than $16 billion in funds. These funds encompassed suspected proceeds of credit card fraud, identity theft, investment fraud, computer hacking, child pornography, narcotics trafficking, and other crimes.

MARMILEV was a longtime associate of Liberty Reserve founder Arthur Budovsky and served as Liberty Reserve’s chief technology officer. In that role, MARMILEV was principally responsible for designing and maintaining Liberty Reserve’s technological infrastructure. MARMILEV worked for Liberty Reserve for years despite knowing that the business was used extensively to process criminal transactions. MARMILEV even promoted Liberty Reserve to criminals on Internet discussion forums, where, using aliases, he touted Liberty Reserve’s lack of anti-money laundering policies and its tolerance for, as he put it, “shady businesses.”

In addition to the prison sentence, MARMILEV, 35, of Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. In conjunction with the sentencing, a civil forfeiture complaint was filed today seeking the forfeiture of Gourmet Boutique, a retail grocery business located in Brooklyn, New York, and the forfeiture of MARMILEV’s interest in Grimaldi’s, a pizzeria located in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn, New York; according to the complaint, MARMILEV purchased these business interests using more than $1.6 million in Liberty Reserve proceeds.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding work of the United States Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, which worked together in this case as part of the Global Illicit Financial Team. Mr. Bharara also thanked the United States Secret Service’s New York Electronic Crimes Task Force for their extraordinary assistance with the investigation. Additionally, Mr. Bharara specially thanked all the international law enforcement agencies that assisted in the investigation, in particular, the Judicial Investigation Organization in Costa Rica, the National High Tech Crime Unit in the Netherlands, the Spanish National Police, Financial and Economic Crime Unit, the Cyber Crime Unit at the Swedish National Bureau of Investigation, and the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office.

This case is being prosecuted jointly with the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (“AFMLS”), which is overseen by Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell. Mr. Bharara thanked AFMLS for its partnership and also thanked the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section for their support.

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Serrin Turner, Andrew Goldstein, and Christine Magdo of the Southern District of New York and Trial Attorney Kevin Mosley of AFMLS are in charge of the prosecution, and Assistant United States Attorney Christine Magdo is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case.

The charges contained in the Indictment against certain of MARMILEV’s co-defendants remain pending and are merely accusations. Those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Press Release Number: 
14-368
Updated May 15, 2015