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    Poker site CEO arrested in multimillion Ponzi scheme

    Raymond Bitar, founder of Full Tilt Poker, was arrested at JFK Airport and charged with siphoning $430 million in gamblers' winnings.
    Steven Musil
    by Steven Musil
    July 2, 2012 8:14 PM PDT Follow @stevenmusil
    (Credit: Anne Broache/CNET)

    The founder of an Internet poker company has been arrested and charged with operating a Ponzi scheme that allegedly bilked poker players out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

    Raymond Bitar, founder and CEO of Full Tilt Poker, was arrested today as he arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Bitar, 40, said in a statement issued through his lawyers that he voluntarily returned from Ireland to face charges.

    "I know that a lot of people are very angry at me," Bitar said in the statement. "I understand why. Full Tilt should never have gotten into a position where it could not repay player funds."

    "For the last 15 months, I have worked hard on possible solutions to get the players repaid," Bitar continued. "Returning today is part of that process. I believe we are near the end of a very long road, and I will continue to do whatever is required to get the players repaid, and I hope that it will happen soon."

    The Justice Department alleges that Bitar defrauded the company's poker customers by lying to them about the safety of their funds. Full Tilt owed $350 million to players around the world while holding only $60 million to $70 million to cover payments, authorities allege. More than $430 million in gamblers' winnings were allegedly siphoned to Bitar and other owners of the online poker site.

    "Bitar and Full Tilt Poker persisted in soliciting U.S. gamblers long after such conduct was outlawed," Janice K. Fedarcyk, assistant director-in-charge at the FBI, said in a statement. "Now he stands accused of defrauding Full Tilt's customers by concealing its cash-poor condition and paying off early creditors with deposits from later customers."

    Bitar, who was charged with gambling, bank fraud, and money laundering offenses, faces up to 145 years in prison if convicted of all the charges.

    Full Tilt Poker, the second most-popular online poker site, operated from 2004 until last year when it was shut down by the U.S. Justice Department, which accused the company of bank fraud, money laundering, and illegal gambling. The company has denied the accusations.

  • #2
    I came across this just after BlackFriday, interesting,

    " Poker scam hit as Gold Coast whiz turns FBI super-grass
    Peter Mitchell
    April 17, 2011

    AUSTRALIAN internet whiz Daniel Tzvetkoff, who has become a prized FBI informant in a bid to avoid a 75-year jail sentence in the US, may have brought down the multibillion-dollar American online poker industry.

    The FBI announced on Friday that it had charged 11 people, including the founders of three of the largest internet poker companies in the US, with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offences. The poker sites PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker have been shut down.

    It is believed Gold Coast entrepreneur Tzvetkoff's decision to turn super-grass and reveal the secret schemes used by poker companies to illegally launder billions of dollars via phony bank accounts and shell companies helped the FBI and New York prosecutors build their case.
    Advertisement: Story continues below

    ''These defendants, knowing full well their business with US customers and US banks was illegal, tried to stack the deck,'' said FBI assistant director Janice Fedarcyk in announcing Friday's charges. ''They lied to banks about the true nature of their business.''

    The internet gambling kingpins, including Isai Scheinberg and Paul Tate of PokerStars, Raymond Bitar and Nelson Burtnick of Full Tilt Poker and Scott Tom and Brent Beckley of Absolute Poker, face 30-year jail terms.

    A year ago it was 28-year-old one-time Queensland high-flyer Tzvetkoff who faced the long stint in the US federal prison system for money laundering, bank fraud and other charges. US authorities arrested Tzvetkoff a year ago when he visited one of the top casinos on the Las Vegas strip, the Wynn, for a gambling conference.

    Tzvetkoff was painted by prosecutors as the brains behind the creation of an illegal system for processing $US500 million in transactions between US gamblers and internet gaming websites.

    He allegedly created shell companies with names unrelated to gambling to process the transactions.

    US federal prosecutors vigorously fought to keep Tzvetkoff in jail, battling and eventually overturning a Las Vegas judge's decision to grant the Australian bail.

    He was transferred to a New York jail and sat there until June when he was quietly released with his whereabouts unknown. ''He's turned the corner, seen the light and is co-operating,'' said former FBI agent Harold Copus".

    Read more:
    3 Time Bracelet Winner


    • #3
      Originally posted by 0HighTimes0 View Post
      Paul Tate of PokerStars
      I hope it's formerly of pokerstars
      When fish are in schools they sometimes take debate.



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