The missing millions associated with the now defunct Full Tilt Poker website have been recovered by United States prosecutors from Guernsey. According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), more than $12 million laundered by Raymond Bitar in Guernsey, located in the English Channel near the coast of France, is being transferred to the DOJ in accordance to the bilateral asset sharing agreement inked by Guernsey and the US in February 2015.
A total of $12.77 million is being turned over to the US in connection to the prosecution of Raymond Bitar and his associates in 2013. The turnover came after the DOJ’s Office of International Affairs sent three Mutual Legal Assistance requests to Guernsey from November 2012 to June 2015, requesting assistance in tracking and restraining Bitar’s funds.
In a statement, John P. Cronan, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, said
Today’s announcement sends a strong message that the Department of Justice and our counterparts in Guernsey will not rest until defendants are brought to justice and denied the illicit proceeds of their crimes
Apart from the Bitar-seized money, more than $1.56 million were also turned over by Guernsey to the US in connection to the prosecution of large-scale marijuana importer Paul Hindelang. The total of $14.3 million in funds relinquished to the US is the same amount Guernsey will be keeping in net proceeds from the two US criminal cases.
In 2011, the US cracked down on online poker websites offering unlawful gambling services to US citizens. Full Tilt Poker was one of the websites investigated by the government and was found to operating a Ponzi scheme. The site was unable to pay its US players their due
winnings and more than $350 million was due.
In April 2013, Bitar pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bank and wire fraud and unlawful internet gambling. He forfeited $40 million along with a few properties, and was sentenced to 145 years in jail. However, Bitar did not serve his time and was let go because of an apparent heart condition.
In 2015, the DOJ tasked the Garden City Group with reimbursing Full Tilt Poker players on the basis of the claims filed. All Full Tilt Poker players who submitted reimbursement claims have since been repaid. There is no information where the recovered funds from Guernsey will be allocated.