The CEO of Full Tilt Poker, Ray Bitar was once again in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Just as the plane he was travelling in, landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport; he was quickly whisked away by authorities on alleged Ponzi scheme charges.
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The United States Justice Department has been on a mission to bring the three former-leading online poker companies to justice. The 15-month long effort by the Department of Justice has finally ended with long awaited arrest of 40-year-old Ray Bittar. Bittar was summoned to the Manhattan Federal Court on Monday for a hearing, where he pleaded not guilty. The judge ruled on Monday, that Bittarcan be released on bail after posting a $2.5 million bond.
Following the Black Friday event of 2011, the government made arrangements to charge Bitar among the many others involved in alleged money laundering, bank fraud and illegal gambling. Among the members of this group, around six pleaded guilty to some charges, while the rest including Full Tilt Poker’s CEO, remained elusive. Bitar, to the better part of the last 15 months stayed off the radar, and maintained his base outside that of the United States. Bitar never submitted a plea to the court during this time. Bitar’s legal representatives sited, that he chose to stay in Ireland so that he could work out a plan to save his company, while at the same time decide how to face the charges back home.
The government alleged that Bitar and a fellow employee were recently involved in committing wire fraud. Bitar allegedly posed a rosy picture to potential customers, promising them their money would be safe. The second criminal allegations against Full Tilt Poker and Bitar, is the Ponzi scheme they supposedly ran. The government first acted upon the Ponzi allegation based on a civil complaint lodged last year. Full Tilt Poker, however, has quickly denied Ponzi allegations, stating that it was the allegation by itself that slowly ate away at the company, as it struggled to repay its poker players $350 million that was credited in their player accounts.
Bitar responded to these serious allegations through an email, where he stated, “I know that a lot of people are very angry at me. I understand why. Full Tilt should never have gotten into a position where it could not repay player funds.” He believes that his return now, would help change things in a positive way.

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