Wednesday April 17, 2013 : MORE DETAIL ON NEW YORK INTERNET GAMBLING BUSTS (Update)
FBI’s Eurasian Organised Crime Squad executed federal search warrants in anti-gambling sweep
More detail on yesterday's New York-centred anti-gambling enforcement raids are now available following a Department of Justice briefing late Tuesday.
* The FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Squad executed federal search warrants throughout New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia in connection with an illegal gambling ring tied to Russian organised crime.
* The investigation uncovered high-stakes poker dens and offshore internet sports betting, and resulted in thirty-four individuals being indicted by Preet Bharara of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York. Among them were well-known WSOP bracelet-holders like poker pros Bill Edler, Peter Feldman, Abe Mosseri, Joe Mancuso, Vadim Trincher, John Hanson and Eddie Ting.
* It is claimed that the high stakes and exclusive poker elements of the gambling ring were influenced behind the scenes by Russian gangsters, and were frequented by Wall Street multi-millionaires and sports and entertainment celebrities.
* Billionaire art gallery owner Hillel Nahmad was arrested and faces charges that he may have been involved in a $50 million money laundering racket connected to the poker activity, in which a list of defendants includes poker organiser Molly Bloom (34), allegedly known for arranging card parties with celebs like A-Rod, Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.
* Nahmad is a scion of a family whose fortune has been valued at $3 billion. His gallery in the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue was among several locations raided by FBI agents.
* The 84-page indictment names the defendants and can be viewed here:
* According to NBC 4, “The organisation's members used a sophisticated money-laundering scheme to move tens of millions of dollars in gambling proceeds from the former Soviet Union through shell companies in Cyprus into various investments and shell companies in the U.S.”
* In addition to card games, it is claimed that some defendants operated illegal gambling websites, ran a global sports book and laundered more than $100 million.
* Federal agents seized documentary evidence, including computers, as part of investigations into the poker gambling ring.
* The indictment accuses two allegedly related crime enterprises – the “Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization” and the “Nahmad-Trincher Organization” headed by defendants based in New York, L.A., Kiev and Moscow.
* Lead defendants include professional poker player Vadim Trincher (52) and alleged Russian crime boss and fugitive from Russian justice, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov (64) who has been described as one of the world’s 10 most wanted fugitives.
* Prosecutors claim that Trincher won hundreds of thousands of dollars at an illegal poker game at The Plaza hotel and ran “the world’s largest sports book” out of his apartment.
* Tokhtakhounov already stands indicted in New York on charges that he bribed officials at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games to fix figure-skating events.
* Investigators and prosecutors claim that the criminal organisations involved laundered tens of millions of dollars through shell companies in Cyprus, U.S. bank accounts and even a Bronx plumbing firm, and used threats of violence to resolve disputes with gambling clients.