Australia targets Tzvetkoff for fraud; cooperates with FBI against poker sites
Former payment processing kingpin Daniel Tzvetkoff will likely face serious jail time if he ever decides – or is allowed – to return to his native Australia. After making an ill-advised trip to Las Vegas in April 2010, Tzvetkoff was arrested by the FBI for processing payments for online poker companies – including Black Friday targets PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker – through his now-defunct company Intabill. Tzvetkoff, who was allegedly released from prison last August, is widely suspected of having entered Witness Protection and to be cooperating with the US Department of Justice in their ongoing crackdown on all things online poker.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is investigating BT Projects, the Aussie branch of Intabill, over the alleged falsifying of documents. The investigation stems from claims made by Tzvetkoff’s former business partner, Salvator “Sam” Sciacca, who sued Tzvetkoff for $100m after discovering that Tzvetkoff had diverted millions of dollars of company funds to support his increasingly lavish lifestyle.
As Intabill imploded, Tzvetkoff allegedly squirreled away as much as $100m into overseas bank accounts, then declared bankruptcy, leaving poker companies out an estimated $50m. Intabill’s employees were also left high and dry, including Tzvetkoff’s personal assistant, who found herself personally responsible for the $130k worth of expenses her boss charged to her American Express card.
Word of Australia’s continued interest in Tzvetkoff follows last week’s reports that Australia was cooperating with US authorities in an investigation of PokerStars’ Sydney-based subsidiary, GP Information Services. Federal police have confirmed receiving a request for cooperation from the FBI, but for “operational reasons,” refused comment on whether they planned to follow America’s lead and seize bank accounts linked to any of the indicted Black Friday companies. An anonymous GP Information Services insider told the Sydney Morning Herald that the company believed it was not contravening any Australian law because it did not conduct business with Australian poker players.
Australia’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has previously referred online poker sites to the federal police, but the federal police had not subsequently brought any prosecutions. The Australian Crime Commission reportedly also urged the federal police to act earlier this month.
So, if we can engage in a little conspiracy theorizing, has some quid pro quo been struck that would see Australia go after the Black Friday poker companies, in exchange for the DoJ handing Tzvetkoff a one-way ticket Down Under? True or not, it would be poetic justice for Tzvetkoff, who thought he had saved his own skin in the US by ratting out the poker companies he allegedly cheated out of millions.