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20 years

Russian jailed in Liberty Reserve case extradited to the United States

Maxim Chukharev (courtesy of the Chukharev family)

Maxim Chukharev (courtesy of the Chukharev family)

March 28th, 2014 ( Maxim Chukharev, a Ukranian and Russian citizen and Costa Rican resident who had remained jailed in Costa Rica pending extradition to the United States in connection with his role in Liberty Reserve, has been extradited to the US, apparently ahead of schedule.


Earlier this week, Chukharev took a very unusual approach to protest his extradition to the US by literally sewing his mouth shut with dental floss and a sewing needle.


Chukharev was extradited at 11:45 a.m. yesterday on United fight 1081, bound for Newark, New Jersey.


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.  Inside Costa Rica covered the case extensively in May.


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 of last year.  Its founder, Arther Budovsky was arrested in the operation.


In October of last year, 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.


A decision by Costa Rican authorities regarding Chukharev’s extradition was not expected until the first week of April.


Chukharev’s parents say he was simply a computer network technician.

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