The US federal government’s list of charges against Raymond Bitar and Howard Lederer, former members of Full Tilt Poker’s board, has expanded. The newly added charges are related to the transfer of funds from Full Tilt Poker’s accounts and Lederer’s business accounts into his personal accounts. Lederer has been indicted under the 1961 Travel Act.
The Travel Act, which was passed in 1961, criminalizes the act of travelling interstate or using interstate facilities either for racketeering or for the operation of an illegal business. The law is being used to file a criminal case against Lederer and Bitar, taking into consideration the transfer of Full Tilt Poker profits from the online poker gaming company’s accounts to the personal accounts of Lederer and Bitar. These funds are believed to rightfully belong to Full Tilt Poker players.
The Travel Act makes it illegal to distribute profits raked in through unlawful activities and acts that “promote, manage, establish, carry on or facilitate” unlawful activities.
According to the revised complaint against Ray Bitar and Howard Lederer, “From December 2006 – two months after the UIGEA was passed that sent many poker sites underground or out of the U.S. completely – to August 2011, over $42,000,000 deposited into the Lederer Consulting Account were transferred into a personal bank account owned by Howard and Susan Lederer. The funds were used to purchase/pay for real estate, renovations, new home construction costs, furniture, mortgage payments, property taxes, personal pension plans and 401K’s, and various personal vehicles including a Maserati and a vintage 1965 Shelby, as well as numerous Audi family cars.”
Meanwhile, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has signed a settlement agreement with PokerStars, according to the terms of which the largest online poker room in the world will acquire the Full Tilt Poker brand and assets from the DoJ in exchange for a huge sum of $731 million. Part of this amount will be used to reimburse Full Tilt Poker’s US players and part of it will be used to refund players in the rest of the world.
Accordingly, PokerStars has paid the first installment and acquired Full Tilt Poker, its one-time rival. The online poker room is now making arrangements to launch Full Tilt Poker as a separate poker brand in the European market in mid-November.
Although the cases against Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars have been dropped, the cases filed against individuals associated with these companies still hold good.