Yessenia Valerio Vargas, a Costa Rican woman who was paid to marry Arthur Budovsky – the founder and owner of the now-defunct online currency company Liberty Reserve – will file a legal claim in Costa Rica seeking half of her husband’s assets, which were seized by Costa Rican authorities following raids in late May.
Valerio worked as a street vendor selling empanadas near Immigration Administration facilities in San José when she was contacted in 2008 by Budovsky’s lawyer, who asked her to marry the Ukrainian-born U.S. man in exchange for ₡200,000 ($400).
On Tuesday, Valerio told News Channel 11 that she would seek Budovsky’s assets, adding that the FBI had asked her to testify in an upcoming trial against Budovsky in the United States. Budovsky was arrested in Spain on May 25 and extradited to the U.S. on money laundering and other charges.
U.S. officials allege that the Costa Rica-based Liberty Reserve laundered some $6 billion over a period of seven years, the largest money laundering operation in history.
Among Budovsky’s assets seized in Costa Rica are four Rolls-Royces, a Mercedes Benz and a motorcycle. Under Costa Rican law, those assets must be auctioned by the Costa Rican Drug Institute to finance Costa Rica’s fight against illicit drug trafficking.
Valerio’s lawyer, Javier Vargas, on Tuesday told the daily La Nación that “there is no reason to annul the marriage,” and he would seek “half of everything Budovsky acquired in the country from 2008 to 2011, when the money laundering investigation began.”
Several members of Liberty Reserve’s operations were included in the U.S. indictment, but two key Costa Rican employees remain at large.