Online poker firm Full Tilt was a Ponzi scheme


Simon Bowers
Guardian

September 21, 2011

Full Tilt, the world’s second largest online¬†poker group, which was shut down by US prosecutors earlier this year, had been operating as a $330m (¬£210m) Ponzi scheme, milking its own players’ funds for the benefit of executives led by founders Ray Bitar and Howard Lederer, according to a new court complaint against the Dublin-based group.

The complaint has been lodged by one of America’s most successful white collar crime prosecutors, Manhattan attorney Preet Bharara, who was involved in the prosecution of Bernie Madoff and former hedge fund boss Raj Rajaratnam. He said: “Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme.

“Not only did the firm orchestrate a massive fraud against the US banking system, as previously alleged, Full Tilt also cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Full Tilt catered to players around the world, including thousands in the UK, but controversially took funds from players from the US, where payments related to online poker were outlawed in 2006. London-listed gaming companies such as bwin.party and Sportingbet stopped accepting US players after the law changed.

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