The United States government has filed criminal charges against seven founders of one of the world's largest digital currency services.
The indictment says the Costa Rican-based entity Liberty Reserve became the bank of choice for the criminal underworld, with more than one million users making 55 million transactions laundering more than $US6 billion in criminal proceeds.
These relate to identity theft, credit card fraud, computer hacking, drugs trafficking and child pornography, Radio New Zealand's Washington correspondent reports.
Five men have been arrested, including the principal founder Vladimir Kats and co-founder Azzedine El Amine. Two others accused remain at large in Costa Rica.
Several Liberty Reserve websites have been frozen, along with 45 bank accounts and 35 exchanger websites, with legal actions taken in 17 countries.