Thursday September 13, 2012 : JUSTICE DEPARTMENT HAS ANOTHER GO AT FORMER FULL TILT EXECS (Update)
$137 million in assets acquired with ‘funds from an illegal enterprise' to be reclaimed
The US Department of Justice has launched another civil claim amendment – it’s second – against former Full Tilt Poker shareholders and executives, seeking forfeiture of a total $137 million in assets which it claims were acquired through the use of funds from an illegal enterprise.
Former CEO Ray Bitar, along with Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Rafe Furst are named in the latest litigation, each alleged to be the beneficiaries of tens of millions of dollars paid out in distributions by Full Tilt Poker.
The feds are using various statutes including the Illegal Gambling Act, the Wire Act (despite December's policy revision by the Department) and even the Travel Act to argue that the distributions constituted money flowing from an illegal enterprise and should therefore be seized.
Offences alleged include illegal online gambling, money laundering, bank fraud, travel, wire fraud and racketeering.
The addition of the Travel Act is especially interesting and is justified on grounds that the Act prohibits the use of “interstate and foreign travel and transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.”
The Act also forbids the distribution of the proceeds of unlawful activity, as well as any act to “promote, manage, establish, carry on or facilitate” any aspect of the unlawful activity.
The new attack divides up the distribution of funds to be forfeited as:
Ray Bitar – $40.8 million
Rafe Furst – $11.7 million
Chris Ferguson – $42 million
Howard Lederer – $42.5 million
Court documentation shows that the authorities have carried out detailed research in attempting to establish where the money went over the four-and-a-half years prior to Black Friday, when the Department of Justice shut down Full Tilt.
Lederer is alleged to have used the Full Tilt largesse to fund personal accounts, buy a slew of top-of-the-range luxury motor vehicles, invest in pension funds, buy upmarket properties and pay off mortgages.
Bitar appears to have also been interested in property, with court documents listing two luxury homes and other investments.
The DoJ action also asks for the award of legal costs.