The CEO of Full Tilt Poker, Mr. Raymond Bitar has been arrested upon arrival in the United States by at JFK airport in New York. Mr. Bitar was reportedly returning of his own accord following months in Ireland and is reported to have stated that he was returning to face charges of fraud against him and Full Tilt Poker.
Full Tilt Poker was one of several online poker sites seized in the United States due to gambling issues, more specifically Full Tilt Poker and Mr. Bitar are accused of not paying out players winnings and mishandling players deposits, a portion of which found itself in the possession of the CEO and founder along with other co-owners and contributors to the online poker site.
Issuing a statement through his legal advisors Mr. Bitar has stated that he intended to return to the United States to face the charges that have been placed before him, one of which includes cheating thousands of online poker players in the country of their money.
In his statement, Mr. Bitar claimed that over the last fifteen months he had been looking for a solution the problem, and was pondering options that would mean he would be able to pay out those online poker players still waiting for the return of their funds. It is estimated that Full Tilt Poker took $350 million of player’s funds, whilst only had approximately $70 million of funds in their own account.
The F.B.I. however is not convinced. An assistant director at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Janice Fedarcyk believes that Bitar and Full Tilt Poker knew full well that they could not possibly secure any players deposits with the funds Full Tilt Poker had as assets and instead used funds from player deposits to re-structure its finance to pay off early creditors.
The penalty if convicted of bank fraud, gambling and money laundering could land Mr. Bitar a rather exaggerated one hundred and fifty years behind bars, although in all likelihood this maximum sentence will never be carried out. There does seem to be strong reason to believe that Bitar will end up in jail however according to most online gambling news reports.
Whilst Mr. Bitar has by his own admission returned to the United States to stand before a court and face the charges levied against him and has apologized over the “Black Friday” incident among others involving players funds, he has not yet pleaded guilty to the charges.