Published Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 | 5:55 a.m.
Updated Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 | 5:57 a.m.
MADRID (AP) — A man accused of founding a currency fund transfer business that allegedly helped criminals move billions of dollars around the world denied committing any crimes in a court appearance Monday and said he will fight U.S. efforts to extradite him from Spain.
Arthur Budovsky, 40, made the declarations before a panel of three judges in his first Spanish court appearance after being detained last year at a Madrid airport while trying to return to Costa Rica, the alleged home of the Liberty Reserve digital currency transfer firm.
His lawyer, Gonzalo Boye, argued that Budovsky should not be sent to the United States to face charges, suggesting that the U.S. case against his client is weak and that Budovsky deserves the right to return to Costa Rica because he has Costa Rican citizenship.
He will remain jailed until the extradition process is over, and that is expected to last several weeks or months.
U.S. federal prosecutors charged Budovsky and six others last year with running an underworld bank that handled $6 billion around the world, and Costa Rican officials have said $100 million went through Costa Rican banks.
Budovsky renounced his American citizenship and lived in Costa Rica, where all online businesses are legal and there are no laws regulating them.
U.S. officials have said Liberty Reserve processed 55 million illicit transactions, charging 1 percent on each one via middlemen.