US Files money laundering charges against 3 online gambling sites

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed bank fraud, illegal gambling offenses and money laundering charges against three online gambling sites.


Named in the charges by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney were PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker.

Preet Bharara announced the unsealing of an indictment on Friday against 11 defendants, which includes the three largest Internet poker companies.

Bharara also issued restraining orders against over 75 bank accounts used the online gambling firms and their payment processors.

To ensure the portals do not resume operations, the government seized the Internet addresses of the three sites, which would effectively closed their doors.

The charges were for the poker sites tricking banks into processing billions of dollars of payments from U.S. bettors, which is prohibited under a 2006 federal law. The law bans illegal gambling sites from accepting payments, even if the companies offices are in countries such as Antigua and the Isle of Man where gambling is legal.

To hide the financial transactions, the online sites made it appear that its customers were paying for jewelry, golf balls and other items. While some of the banks said they were not aware of the illegal nature of the businesses of the three companies, the operators said they bribed banks into accepting the payments.

Two of the defendants in the case were arrested on Friday by authorities. They include John Campos, the vice chairman of a Saint George, Utah bank which processed gambling transactions in exchange for a $20,000 fee and a $10 million investment in the bank.

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