News Wrap: Arrests Made in $6 Billion Cyber Money-Laundering Scheme
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HARI SREENIVASAN: It may be the biggest money-laundering scheme in U.S. history. The founder of an online currency transfer business, Liberty Reserve, was accused today of laundering six billion dollars worldwide. A federal indictment unsealed in New York named Arthur Budovsky and six others. He has been arrested in Spain. The website is based in Costa Rica. Federal prosecutors said the network became — quote — “the bank of choice for the criminal underworld.”
Outgunned rebels in Syria today urged the European Union to send them weapons immediately now that an E.U. arms embargo has ended, but it was unclear when shipments might begin.
We have a report from John Ray of Independent Television News.
JOHN RAY, Independent Television News: Arming Syria’s rebels is a gamble. It might even the battlefield odds. It could also ignite an explosive arms race, just one of the risks Britain and France run in forcing the E.U. to abandon its ban on shipping weapons to Syria, in the hope it will force the Syrian regime to the negotiating table.
WILLIAM HAGUE, British Foreign Secretary: The whole of the European Union is very strongly committed to a political settlement in Syria. So, yes, of course, on such a difficult foreign policy issue, there are disagreements.
JOHN RAY: And danger is becoming ever more apparent. President Assad’s Russian allies responded by announcing they would supply advanced air defense missiles to Damascus to deter what they called “hotheads” from intervening. And that, says neighboring Israel, is a threat to its security, as it warned against an arms escalation.
YUVAL STEINITZ, Israeli Intelligence Minister: We are very concerned, and we don’t understand. We think that this behavior of supplying such arms to Damascus, to Assad in this crucial time of terrible civil war, we think that this is totally wrong.
JOHN RAY: In recent days, the Syrian civil war has spilled over its border with deadly clashes into Lebanon and missile and mortar rounds landing in Israel. A peace conference scheduled for next month carries a great deal of hope, but much less expectation.
It’s not yet clear when Britain might begin to supply guns, nor what limits it is placing on the size of the armaments, nor how weapons will be kept from the hands of hardline Islamist fighters now dominating the opposition.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Russian counterpart in Paris to work on preparations for that upcoming peace conference. The Syrian government has agreed in principle to attend. The opposition has not yet committed.
At least 19 more Iraqis died today as a wave of sectarian killing rocked the country again. Bombing and shooting attacks struck from Baghdad north to Mosul. They came a day after car bombings killed more than 70 people in Shiite areas of Baghdad. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned today his government will hunt down the attackers, Sunni and Shiite alike.
PRIME MINISTER NOURI AL-MALIKI, Iraq: The cabinet has seriously discussed today all the challenges facing the security situation and the steps that the Council of Ministers should adopt to confront the current crisis. They have all agreed to shoulder the responsibility to face the outlaws, regardless of their affiliations, doctrine and their political parties.
HARI SREENIVASAN: In all, more than 450 Iraqis have died in the spike of violence this month.
Gunmen in Pakistan shot and killed a woman working to vaccinate people against polio today. That led the World Health Organization to suspend its polio drive in the area. A second polio worker was seriously wounded in the attack in a village on the outskirts of Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan. There was no claim of responsibility, but Taliban militants have accused polio workers of spying for the U.S.
A CSX cargo train derailed outside Baltimore, Md., this afternoon and touched off a thunderous explosion. The blast shook buildings half-a-mile away, sparked fires and sent up a heavy plume of smoke. Residents reported a strong smell of chemicals, and fire officials urged people within a 20-block radius to stay inside. Later, the county fire chief said the smoke and fumes were not toxic. There was no word on the cause of the wreck.
In economic news, two private reports painted a brighter picture of the recovery. One found home prices in March jumped by the most since 2006. The other reported consumer confidence is the highest since early 2008. Wall Street rallied on the news. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 106 points to close at 15,409; the Nasdaq rose more than 29 points to close near 3,489.
Those are some of the day’s major stories — now back to Gwen.