Thursday, October 04, 2012

Full Tilt Poker Star Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud!


Nelson Burtnick, who was employed as the payment processing chief at Full Tilt Poker, the online poker giant that is now acquired by PokerStars, pleaded guilty of having taken part in a conspiracy to cheat banks and financial institutions into processing funds related to online poker gaming, in violation of US online poker laws.

It may be recalled that the US federal government had cracked down on major online poker rooms Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, and Absolute Poker, seized their domain names, and indicted key people associated with these online poker rooms of bank fraud, illegal gambling, and money laundering. This happened on April 15, 2011, a day commonly referred to within poker circles as the Black Friday of online poker. Subsequently, the US government and PokerStars signed a settlement deal, according to the terms of which PokerStars would refund Full Tilt Poker’s players and acquire the company and the US government would drop all charges against Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars.

A 41-year-old Canadian citizen, Burtnick told Judge Gabriel Gorenstein, US magistrate judge, that US banks would not have processed gambling related funds for Full Tilt Poker as it is illegal for them to do so. He admitted that he had cheated banks while working for Full Tilt Poker as well as PokerStars. He said, “We had to do this type of deception to enable US poker players to load their accounts. I know that what I did was wrong.”

Burtnick will be sentenced to 15 years in prison by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan; however, no sentencing date has been set as yet. Burtnick’s lawyer Kelly Currie refused to make any comment.

According to US prosecutors, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, and PokerStars devised a number of ways to dodge the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 so that banks could be fooled into processing gambling related funds.

Preet Bharara, US attorney in Manhattan, the prosecutor in the case, who had filed a civil suit against Absolute Poker, Full Tilt Poker, and PokerStars, announced in July that PokerStars and the Department of Justice (DoJ) had signed a $731 million settlement agreement, as per the terms of which PokerStars would refund Full Tilt Poker’s ex players in the US and other parts of the world and acquire the brand.

PokerStars will directly refund Full Tilt Poker players in the rest of the world, while the DoJ will refund US players.

My Take: What else is going to be new with Full Tilt and the cheating, scamming and defrauding surrounding the site?