USA LAW ENFORCEMENT REQUESTS AUSTRALIA POLICE ASSISTANCE IN MULTI MILLION DOLLAR POKER FRAUD FOR ONLINE CASINOS
FEDERAL USA POLICE have been drawn into a US probe of alleged bank fraud by online poker sites in which the FBI alleges $US540 million was laundered by an Australian payments processor.
FROM THE - JOURNALS of Monte Friesner ~
Financial Crime Consultant for WANTED SA ~
Wednesday June 08, 2011 >
Charges laid in a New York court have also put a question mark over lucrative sponsorship deals held by Crown Casino, whose Aussie Millions poker tournament was this year sponsored by Full Tilt Poker, and the Cronulla Sharks, which have PokerStars as a sponsor.
The Australian Federal Police told BusinessDay it had received a request for help from US authorities. ''It's a US investigation, but we're assisting,'' a spokeswoman said.
The charges, which attract jail sentences of up to 30 years and fines running into the millions of dollars, have also sparked a public rift between Full Tilt and its star player, Phil Ivey, who has filed a lawsuit in Nevada alleging the company owes gamblers more than $US150 million in unpaid winnings.
Public allegations that Full Tilt had been implicated in money laundering also caused him ''public ridicule, humiliation, and loss of personal and professional reputation'', Mr Ivey said in a complaint filed with the Clark County District Court. In April, the FBI unsealed a grand jury indictment charging 11 people - including the founders of Full Tilt, PokerStars and another large online poker site, Absolute Poker - with bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling.
At the same time, US authorities launched a civil suit against the poker sites and some of the companies that processed their payments, claiming a total of at least $US2 billion.
In its indictment, the FBI alleges Intabill, a British Virgin Islands-registered company associated with bankrupt Australian information technology entrepeneur Daniel Tzvetkoff, ''processed at least $US543,210,092 of transactions for the poker companies from mid-2007 through March 2009''.
US authorities charged Tzvetkoff with money laundering offences last year, but he has since been released on bail and is reported to be one of three confidential witnesses co-operating with the FBI.
While Tzvetkoff is not named in the case brought by US authorities, the indictment alleges Intabill had a central role in processing payments for the poker companies.
The FBI alleges ''Intabill disguised the gambling transactions as the transactions of dozens of phoney financial service merchants''. It alleges the disguises, which included fake e-commerce sites pretending to sell everything from jewellery and golf clubs to environmentally friendly household products, were needed because banks would not process transactions relating to internet gambling, which is illegal in the US.
But the poker companies allegedly fell out with Intabill in March 2009 and stopped using it to process payments, ''in part because Intabill owed them tens of millions of dollars for past processing''.
The dispute became a legal stoush that ended last year when the Federal Court ordered Intabill and Tzvetkoff's BT Holdings to pay Malta-registered Hoop & Javelin Holdings, which is associated with Absolute Poker, €1.8 million and $US644,000 for ''online billing and payment services''.
In an affidavit filed in New York, FBI special agent Rebecca Vassilakos alleges that in just five weeks more than $US16 million in gambling money, disguised as pay-day loan transactions, was processed through the National Bank of California. Ms Vassilakos also alleges the amount laundered by Intabill may be far higher than the $US543 million alleged in the indictment. She alleges that in just six months in 2008 Intabill's US representative, John Scott Clark, processed more than $US700,000 through an unnamed Florida bank.
WANTED SA kindly thanks Westlaw, Arutz Sheva, Associated Press, and all the Parties, Press, Journalists, Law Enforcement and Securities forces who have contributed to this article and their sincere opinions and statements.
WANTED SA states that the facts and opinions stated in this article are those of the author and not those of WANTED SA. We do not warrant the accuracy of any of the facts and opinions stated in this article nor do we endorse them or accept any form of responsibility for the articles.