The Tico Times has shed a little more light on what prompted the May 6 Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) raids on offices and residences connected to Absolute Poker and PokerStars. Costa Rica’s Public Prosecutors Office had reportedly been monitoring AP co-founder Scott Tom since 2007, when a small private plane in which Tom was flying aborted a takeoff from Juan Santamaria International Airport. The plane, which was bound for Columbia, was found to contain $3m in cash. (This incident was noted on gambling news sites at the time.)
Guillermo Hernández, adjunct prosecutor at the Prosecutor’s Office’s Financial Crimes Division, told the Tico Times that following this discovery, his office “began to investigate the financial and economic activities that [Tom] had in Costa Rica. We were able to determine that there was an important flow of money from the United States to Costa Rica and that it was being invested in different forms in Costa Rica.” In time, with help from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Costa Rican officials built their case. Hernandez described the events of Black Friday, in which Tom was one of the 11 individuals indicted by the DoJ, as the “green light” for his office to call in the OIJ.
Hernandez says Olman Rimola, former head of AP’s customer service arm Innovative Data Solutions, is suspected of assisting Tom in laundering money derived from US poker players. Rimola turned himself in to Costa Rican authorities on Monday. Also arrested was Oldemar Ramirez (presumably the “third lesser known party” originally identified as Oldemar Vargas in a Blanca Games statement), who is identified as a security worker at PokerStars’ office in Santa Ana, west of San Jose. Ramirez is also suspected of assisting the laundering of illegal funds. Neither man is being held in custody, but both have been ordered not to leave the country and to check in with prosecutors every 15 days. Scott Tom remains at large.
According to Hernandez, his office was “able to determine that the money coming from the US to Costa Rica was invested by [Ramirez and Rimola] … in Costa Rica, epecially in the purchase of property and vehicles.” Rimola’s attorney, José Alberto Monterrosa, told La Nación that “in our country, [online gambling sites] are permitted, so what is the crime? I still haven’t found one and I don’t think I’m going to.”