UPDATE 1-Digital currency firm co-founder admits to U.S. money laundering charge
(Adds details on plea, background on case)
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK Jan 29 (Reuters) - The co-founder of the Liberty Reserve digital currency service pleaded guilty to a criminal charge on Friday, days before he was to go on trial accused by U.S. prosecutors of enabling criminals worldwide to launder more than $6 billion.
Arthur Budovsky, 42, admitted he knew Costan Rican-based Liberty Reserve was "susceptible" to be used by criminals, including for Ponzi schemes. He pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to a money laundering conspiracy charge.
"I knew what I did was illegal," Budovsky, in blue jail clothing, told U.S. District Judge Denise Cote.
Budovsky faces up to 20 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced May 6.
Liberty Reserve operated what U.S. prosecutors called one of the world's most widely used digital currency services, which was used by criminals involved in hacking, child pornography and drug trafficking.
The company was shuttered in May 2013 amid U.S. efforts to crack down on the use of digital currencies including bitcoin to evade law enforcement and launder illicit proceeds.
Authorities have called the case the largest international money laundering prosecution in history, involving more than $6 billion of proceeds from 2006 to 2013. Continuación...