Bradley Franzen: Bank Fraud, Money-Laundering Plea in Online Poker Payment Case ~
A United States citizen admitted to helping online-poker companies circumvent laws prohibiting the processing of Internet-gambling payments.
FROM THE - JOURNALS of Monte Friesner ~
Financial Crime Consultant for WANTED SA ~
Sunday May 29, 2011 >
Bradley Franzen, who lives in Illinois and Costa Rica, was among 11 people charged last month by U.S. authorities in a crackdown on Internet poker. The founders of the three of the largest online-poker companies doing business in the U.S. also were charged.
Mr. Franzen, who operates a company that matches merchants with electronic-payment processers, said he helped online-poker companies find people to process electronic payments, including those by U.S. gamblers. In October 2006, the U.S. made it a crime for companies to knowingly accept electronic payments in connection with Internet gambling. "To avoid bank restrictions, they used shell companies and phony websites," Mr. Franzen said.
At a hearing, Mr. Franzen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, to accepting funds in connection with unlawful Internet gambling and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He faces as many as 20 years in prison on the money-laundering conspiracy charge.
Mr. Franzen said he understood that "millions of dollars" were processed but didn't know the exact amount. According to a plea agreement with prosecutors, Mr. Franzen agreed to cooperate with the probe.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have alleged that the poker companies, using third-party payment processers, disguised billions of dollars from U.S. gamblers as payments to nonexistent online merchants for golf balls, jewelry, flowers and other merchandise.
The investigation is enlarging to several countries in Central America, Eastrn Europe and indictments to follow.
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