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PokerStars Chairman to Pay US Government $50 Mil to Settle Forfeiture Demands

Written by:
Reuters
Published on:
Jun/12/2013
PokerStars Chairman to Pay US Government $50 Mil to Settle Forfeiture Demands

(Reuters) - The chairman of PokerStars has agreed to pay $50 million to resolve forfeiture demands by the U.S. government connected to a money laundering lawsuit the online gambling company settled last year, court documents said.

Mark Scheinberg, chairman of the Isle of Man-based PokerStars, had continued to receive distributions for PokerStars that were subject to forfeiture, according to an order filed late on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New York. 

Scheinberg, who had disputed that the money was subject to forfeiture, agreed to the settlement as he "wishes to fully and finally resolve this matter," the order said.

Neither his lawyer nor PokerStars responded to a request for comment.

The settlement comes on top of the $731 million PokerStars itself agreed to pay in July 2012 to settle the money laundering lawsuit, filed a year earlier by the U.S. Department of Justice.

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The earlier settlement included $547 million that would be used to reimburse U.S. customers of Full Tilt Poker, a rival brand that also settled at that time and that was coming under PokerStars' control.

The offshore companies operated two of the biggest websites for online gamblers after a federal law banning real-money gambling on online card games was enacted in 2006 and other companies left the market.

Their success came to a halt on April 15, 2011, a day dubbed Black Friday by the industry, as federal prosecutors unveiled the civil bank fraud money-laundering suit against Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker.

The lawsuit contended the companies used fraudulent means to circumvent federal law and deceive banks into processing payments for them.

Criminal charges were also brought against the sites' founders. Former Full Tilt Poker CEO Raymond Bitar pleaded guilty in April and was ordered to pay $40 million.

The three other defendants remain at large, including Isai Scheinberg, the founder of PokerStars, and the father of Mark Scheinberg. Criminal charges were not filed against Mark Scheinberg.

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