The CEO of an online poker web site is all-in–all-in jail that is until he posts a $2.5 million bond after returning to the U.S. from Ireland to face federal criminal allegations.
After his surrender at Kennedy Airport yesterday, federal prosecutors charged Raymond Bitar, the co-founder and CEO of Full Tilt Poker, with “nine criminal counts, including illegal gambling, money laundering and wire fraud charges” according to Reuters.
Prosecutors initially filed charges against Bitar in April 2011, but have now issued a more wide-ranging indictment. If found guilty on these charges, he could potentially be sentenced to a maximum of 145 years.
Bitar entered a plea of not guilty in a federal courtroom. Prosecutors contend that Full Tilt is an Internet Ponzi scheme–an allegation denied by Bitar and Full Tilt–and owes millions to U.S. customers.
Bitar, a U.S. citizen from California, says he voluntarily returned from Dublin, Ireland (where Full Tilt has its main offices) to face the charges and has been attempting to repay players to whom the online casino owes money.
CBS News reports that federal prosecutors have “determined that more than $430 million had been paid to Bitar and other owners while only $60 million to $70 million remained in company accounts to reimburse players who thought they had accounts totaling $350 million, half of it belonging to Americans.”
According to CBS, Bitar said that “I know that a lot of people are very angry at me. I understand why. Full Tilt should never have gotten into a position where it could not repay player funds.”
Charges are also pending against executives of two other online gaming sites: Absolute Poker and Poker Stars.