On Friday, April 15, four of the most popular online poker rooms in the world were shut down by the U.S. government in order to investigate serious charges of illegal activity.
Pokerstars’ founder Isai Scheinberg, a Canadian citizen, is the lead defendant in a groundbreaking case. Fulltilt Poker’s cofounder Nelson Burtnick, who officially lives in Ireland but is also a Canadian citizen, is also a defendant. Pokerstars and Fulltilt Poker, the undisputed industry leaders in traffic volume in recent years, are not alone in these charges –Ultimatebet Poker and Absolute Poker are also in the thick of things.
Canadian citizen Ryan Lang is also charged with money laundering and fraud, among other things, for acting as one of the “various middlemen” who facilitated the alleged financial deception, according the official indictment. Lang was accused of being involved in the fraudulent processing of gambling transactions disguised as purchases of goods such as jewellery and golf equipment. The deception is said to have duped U.S. banks into breaking the law by participating in online gambling transactions, which has been strictly forbidden by U.S. law since 2006.
That makes a total of three Canadian citizens out of a total of eleven defendants in this sudden and shocking lawsuit. Paul Tate is associated with the payment and payment processing departments of Pokerstars, although not much is known about him. Ray Bitar, another cofounder of Fulltilt Poker, has roots in Los Angeles. Scott Tom, a cofounder of Absolute Poker, and Brent Beckley, the director of risk management and payments at Absolute Poker, are also Americans. Bradley Franzen, Ira Rubin, and Chad Elie, also Americans, are being charged as “poker processors” according to the indictment.
Franzen is charged with scouting out companies and individuals willing to process deceptive payments; Rubin is charged with actually processing deceptive payments using front companies; Elie is charged with opening bank accounts in the U.S. by “deceptive means” in order to further process allegedly illegal payment.
John Campos, also American, was in charge of a bank in Utah that is said to have accepted bribes in order to process the questionable payments.
The three Canadians – Scheinberg, Burtnick, and Lang – are not presently in the United States and have therefore not been arrested. The FBI is working with international authorities in order to secure the arrests of these three defendants.