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October 18th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) The Russian Federation is asking Costa Rica to not extradite its citizen, Maxim Chukharev, to the United States. Chukharev is wanted by the Southern District Court of New York on money laundering charges relating to his involvement in Liberty Reserve, a so-called “digital currency” which the United States alleges was the largest money laundering operation in history.
Liberty Reserve operated from Costa Rica, and according to U.S. authorities, laundered more than $6 billion in illicit proceeds.
The Criminal Court of Pavas handed down an order to extradite Chukharev to the United States on October 3rd.
Russia is now requesting that the decision be overturned. The extradition order can be appealed until October 24th.
The Russian Foreign Ministry sent a request to Costa Rica’s ambassador in Moscow, Mario Fernández Silva, asking that Chukharev not face extradition to the United States.
In their request, Russian diplomats expressed their hope that “the authorities in Costa Rica would act responsibly and not allow the extradition of Chukharev to the United States.”
The Russians described the extradition order as the latest example of “the extraterritorial application of U.S. law to Russian citizens,” which Russia described as a violation of international law. “Such practices are unacceptable and must stop. We continue to insist that the rights of Russians be respected.”
The United States alleges that Chukharev was in charge of the operation’s technical infrastructure. Chukharev could face up to 20 years in prison in the United States.
Liberty Reserve was shutdown by U.S. authorities in a joint operation with Spanish and Costa Rican authorities in May. Its founder, Arther Budovsky was arrested in the operation.
Budovsky, a Ukranian who has been reported to be a naturalized Costa Rican citizen as the result of a bogus marriage, is thought to have financed a number of businesses in Costa Rica with proceeds that are claimed to originate through child pornography sites and drug traffickers who used the Liberty Reserve service.
Liberty Reserve was an unregulated money transfer business where users could keep their identity hidden. Authorities allege that a large portion if its user base came from underground economies and cybercrime.