Founders of Internet gambling companies PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker were among 11 people charged by the U.S. In a case that seeks at least $3 billion in forfeitures and penalties. Ray Bitar, Full Tilt Poker founder, strikes deal with US prosecutors Ray Bitar who was charged with bank fraud, money laundering and online gambling offences faced a jail sentence of 65 years Full. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said on Tuesday they were filing legal papers as part of a civil money laundering complaint that alleged Full Tilt Poker improperly used funds of online poker. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker had been charged with bank fraud and money laundering, and some of the settlement money will be used to reimburse gamblers. Prosecutors claimed the operators of Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker – three of the most popular online poker sites – tricked US banks into processing billions of dollars from.
Former Full Tilt Poker founder Ray Bitar’s laundered money has finally been recovered by the US. (Image: pokernews.com)
The April 2011 Black Friday scandal is still a topic of discussion more than six years later.
And now, a new story involving the scandal has emerged with BBC News reporting that money laundered by Ray Bitar, one of Full Tilt Poker’s founders, has been recovered by US authorities.
Roulette machine learning. Bitar, an American citizen, was found to have laundered millions of dollars through the Channel Island of Guernsey.
In 2015, the US Department of Treasury and Guernsey agreed on a deal for both countries to split the money illegally laundered by the former online poker site executive.
Both governments praised each other for working together to find a solution. Guernsey agreed to seize Bitar’s bank accounts from 2012 to 2015 during an investigation into his finances.
“Guernsey has an ongoing and exemplary commitment to international co-operation and mutual legal assistance and we are therefore extremely pleased to announce this asset share,” Guernsey Attorney General Megan Pullum told the BBC.
Prior to Black Friday, Full Tilt Poker was an online poker giant, along with PokerStars. The poker site hired numerous big name pros to represent its brand, including executives Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey, and Tom “durrrr” Dwan.
Players such as Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond, durrrr, and Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, would often compete in the highest stakes games in the world at FTP. Getting to watch these games from the rail is part of what drew millions of poker players to the site.
But things all fell apart for the once popular online poker site in April 2011 when the US Department of Justice shutdown the site. Due to mismanagement by Bitar, Lederer, Ferguson, and others, when FTP went under, there wasn’t money available in reserves to pay out player balances.
Spared Jail Time
Many customers were forced to wait a few years before receiving their money. Bitar, in 2013, plead guilty to unlawful internet gambling and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, but served minimal jail time when US District Judge spared him a lengthy stay behind bars due to the executive’s alleged heart condition.
Bitar, along with Ferguson and Lederer, went into hiding for years to escape the media scrutiny and angry former Full Tilt Poker customers.
He resurfaced in 2015 when married Jacquelyn Lucas in a multi-million-dollar ceremony, leaving many disgruntled ex-FTP players wondering where he got the money.
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Over six years after the incident first occurred, the final funds that were laundered by former Full Tilt Poker Chief Executive Officer Ray Bitar have been remitted to the States of America government.
The BBC had previously reported that a small amount of money, roughly £9.5 million (roughly $13 million U. S.), was recently found on the Channel Island of Guernsey. The government of the small enclave negotiated with the U. S. Department of Justice for the return of the money, commenting that they had been a “reliable partner” of the U. S. in questions regarding money laundering. The two parties had to wait until the case against Bitar had been litigated before the money could be released, however.
Both sides praised each other regarding the case. Guernsey Attorney General Megan Pullman noted that “it was an excellent example” of two law enforcement agencies working together. “Guernsey has an ongoing and exemplary commitment to international co-operation and mutual legal assistance and we are therefore extremely pleased to announce this asset share,” Pullman stated after the announcement of the money retrieval. Agent John Cronan of the U. S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division was also complimentary of the work done by Guernsey officials.
The case of Ray Bitar has been perhaps the most intriguing of those that were caught up in the “Black Friday” scandal of 2011. When the federal government shut down the “Big Three” – PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and the CEREUS Network rooms of UltimateBet (UB.com) and Absolute Poker – on April 15, 2011, the rooms were caught flat-footed about what to do next. The federal government came back a few days later and offered to let the rooms have access to their websites to refund players their money, but only PokerStars – who had sequestered player accounts to keep the players’ monies from business monies – was able to do it.
Full Tilt Poker Money Laundering No Deposit
For some reason, Full Tilt Poker was judged the most harshly by those in the poker community. For another six months, Full Tilt Poker (under the operations of Bitar and allegedly Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson) attempted to make enough money to be able to remit the funds back to U. S. players. The damage was done, however, as international players stayed away. In September 2011, the online poker site was shuttered when their license was suspended in the Isle of Man.
Bitar, who was allegedly in charge of the site when it was shut down, was one of the 11 men charged with a variety of online gaming and fraud charges under the “Black Friday” indictment. He left the U. S. and, after the Department of Justice and PokerStars were able to work out a deal for the site to buy Full Tilt Poker and pay off all its players in 2012 (PokerStars would bring FTP back for a couple of years before shutting it down again in March of last year), would return to the U. S. to face his charges.
The case was quite convoluted, mostly because of Bitar’s alleged health issues at the time. When the plea bargain was reached Bitar, who had been serving his jail time in house arrest in California, asked for mercy from the sentencing judge in the case. Citing his failing physical health that had doctors saying he wouldn’t live beyond three months, Bitar’s attorneys asked that the judge sentence Bitar to the time served and complete forfeiture of his money and properties (believed to be about $40 million). The attorney agreed, sentencing Bitar to time served and releasing him in 2013 (on the second anniversary of “Black Friday”).
Bitar laid low for two years before reappearing in 2015. In a lavish, high dollar affair, Bitar married and looked nothing like the shell of a man who appeared in a courtroom in 2013 asking for mercy because of health issues. It was wondered by many in the poker community how the ceremony was paid for, but no other information was learned after the fact.
Unlike a couple of his accomplices, Bitar hasn’t returned to a poker room. Both Lederer and Ferguson have come back to the World Series of Poker – but no other tournaments – with Ferguson arguably having the greater success. Ferguson was crowned the WSOP Player of the Year after this year’s festivities in Las Vegas.
Full Tilt Poker Money Laundering Rules
Of the “Black Friday” defendants, only one remains and it is likely he will never surrender to U. S. authorities. Isai Scheinberg, the founder and operator of PokerStars from its inception until it was sold to Amaya Gaming (now The Stars Group), has never entered discussion with the government regarding a plea bargain nor has he traveled from Israel, where the Canadian calls home now. Although he is no longer linked with PokerStars, Scheinberg’s shadow is still a long one, one that the feds would like to close on the “Black Friday” scandal.