Guernsey

Full Tilt Poker scam: Guernsey millions returned to US

Poker table, chips, playing card
Image caption Most of the funds being transferred from Guernsey is in connection with the Alderney licensed and collapsed Full Tilt Poker website

A total of £9.5m recovered from an internet poker fraudster has been shared with US authorities.

The funds were laundered by Raymond Bitar through the Channel Island of Guernsey.

In 2013 he pleaded guilty to defrauding Full Tilt Poker customers out of $350m (£261m), but handed just $40m (£29.8m) to authorities.

A total of $14.3m (£10.6m) was shared by the island's government with the US Department of Treasury.

The money relates to both Full Tilt Poker and a separate case.

'Reliable partner'

Guernsey's government will retain the same amount, in the second case of its kind since an agreement was struck with the US government in 2015.

Guernsey and Jersey have similar agreements with numerous countries, which transparency campaigners say are needed because their offshore industries are targeted by criminals.

The States of Guernsey said it had long been a "reliable partner" of the United States in countering money laundering and seizing criminal assets.

Image copyright States of Guernsey
Image caption Guernsey's Procurer Megan Pullum QC said the case illustrated the "dedication and persistence" of Guernsey authorities

Island authorities restrained bank accounts and provided financial records between 2012 and 2015 to help US investigators seize Bitar's assets,

In 2013, he pleaded guilty to defrauding Full Tilt Poker's customers about the security of their funds.

When Full Tilt collapsed Bitar was unable to pay players the $350m (£261m) owed, but he forfeited funds, including the $12.8m (£9.5m) returned from Guernsey to the US.

John Cronan from the US Department of Justice's Criminal Division said he valued the work of his Guernsey counterparts in this case.

Guernsey Attorney General Megan Pullum QC said it was an excellent example of cross-country working.

"Guernsey has an ongoing and exemplary commitment to international co-operation and mutual legal assistance and we are therefore extremely pleased to announce this asset share."

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