Major Online Poker Sites Accused over Money Laundering

Published on: April 20, 2011 

Hundreds of gamblers from the UK stand to lose tens of thousands of pounds after a dramatic announcement by the US Attorney's Office and Federal Bureau of Investigation that they had cracked down on online gambling firms with links to Britain.

The founders of three of the country's largest internet poker sites have been charged and all in all, 11 defendants were arrested and charged with illegal gambling, fraud and the laundering of billions of dollars. Among the defendants were the founders of Poker Stars, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation have also seized the five internet domain names used by the above three companies and have issued restraining orders against hundreds of bank accounts in over 14 countries around the world.

Prosecutors have claimed that the defendants have tricked US banks into processing billions of dollars from customers. It is illegal for US banks to accept payments from illegal gambling websites.

According to the Manhattan US Attorney, Preet Bharara "As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits. Moreover, as we allege, in their zeal to circumvent the gambling laws, the defendants also engaged in massive money laundering and bank fraud. Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don't like simply because they can't bear to be parted from their profits."

The internet addresses, one of which is run from the Isle of Man, another from Dublin and the third from a Commonwealth Caribbean country, where online gambling is legal, have also been seized by the US authorities.

Players who tried to gain access to the and domains this past weekend were met with a notice issued by the FBI advising them that the domain names had been seized and reminding players that gambling online is considered a federal crime.

A statement issued by PokerStars on Saturday said that they had been forced to suspend real money play to US players but they gave players an assurance that their balances were safe. The company added that there was no cause for concern and that for all customers outside the US it is business as usual.

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