Posted 1/5/11 : $8 million seized in recent enforcement actions.
More detail on federal moves against e-processors in Washington state were revealed in an article in the respected Forbes magazine this week.
The publication says that in recent months the authorities have ‘quietly moved' to seize nearly $8 million from financial firms that were processing transactions for major offshore online poker companies like PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker.
The article points to four civil forfeiture complaints filed in federal court in Seattle since October, in which federal prosecutors have seized cash sitting in accounts at Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and SunTrust Banks, and belonging to payment processor firms like Arrow Checks, Secure Money, Etegrity Processing, Anaya Trading Solutions and Blue Lake Capital Management and Logistics.
It claims that the actions are the latest move in the Justice Department’s battle against online poker and come after Washington’s State Supreme Court in September upheld a 2006 state law that made it a Class C felony to play online poker for money in the state of Washington.
A special task force was augmented by the Washington State Gambling Commission and began investigations in January 2009, the court filings show.
The largest of the forfeiture cases, filed in December and involving $5.1 million, began in June 2009 after a task force officer was notified by a witness that he had received a payout check of online poker winnings from Arrow Checks.
The government investigation tracked more than $20 million of wire transfers from Canada and Texas to Arrow Checks accounts at Bank of America controlled by Scott Seguin and Justin Sather, court documents reveal.
Investigators went on to contact players resident in Washington state who received cheques from Arrow Checks and subsequently alleged that the money represented proceeds from online poker activities at PokerStars. Federal prosecutors claim Seguin and Sather were operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and violated the federal Wire Act “…because online gambling is illegal in Washington state.”
The Forbes article reveals that other payment processors operated six bank accounts at SunTrust and Wells Fargo controlled by one Sanjay Panya. The bank accounts were used to issue cheques that allegedly were the result of poker play at Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. Again, the investigators obtained further information by contacting Washington state players they tracked through the processing records. The feds seized $1.3 million in the accounts connected to Panya in November, claiming he was operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and violating the Wire Act.
Brian Kenny and Javier Carillo, are alleged in the court documents to have facilitated payments to Washington state residents derived from online poker play at UltimateBet.
Major companies like Pokerstars and Full Tilt Poker pulled out of Washington state operations following the state Supreme Court’s findings in September (see previous InfoPowa reports).
Federal teams have been tracking down and prosecuting e-cash processors across the US, with seizures reported from Florida and New York as well as Washington state. Hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions have reportedly been disrupted.