On Thursday, the US Secret Service and the Greenville (South Carolina) US Attorneys Office announced the seizure of over $2m in “criminal assets” from two international companies — Prime Investment Ltd. and Trading 24/7 Ltd. — accused of processing funds for online poker companies. Assistant US Attorney Bill Watkins claimed the two outfits had sent more than $40m to the US between Oct. 2010 and Feb. 2011 while disguising the true source of the funds. The online poker companies on whose behalf the processing was carried out were not specified. Secret Service agent Thomas Griffin would only say that the “ongoing” investigation was “nationwide,” but added that “many of the online gambling sites were set up in [South Carolina].”
The US law enforcement officials claim to have tracked wire transfers made to South Carolina residents, interviews with whom confirmed the funds were online poker winnings. Despite these admissions, US Attorney for the District of South Carolina Bill Nettles doesn’t intend to prosecute any players, choosing to focus on the processors’ “dubious business activities.” In addition to violating the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), Nettles claims the companies have violated federal laws involving bank fraud and money laundering.
For their assistance in the investigation, the Greenville County Sherrifs Office will receive $707k of the seized funds (much as the local cops in Maryland shared in the bounty provided by the Blue Monday indictments/seizures). It should be noted that the $2.1m seized belonged not to the processing companies, but to South Carolina players, so we’d hope the affected players all receive equivalent tax breaks next April (and the freedom to ignore speed limits on South Carolina highways), but we won’t hold our breath.
It hasn’t escaped our notice that the US Attorneys first issued notice of Thursday’s press conference way back on Sept. 30. Did they deliberately choose the five-year anniversary of the UIGEA to make their big announcement? It also didn’t escape our notice that one of the local law enforcement lads bears more than a passing resemblance to Bwin.party co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger (see below). Damn, we knew Norbert had a hard-on for the international companies he (hypocritically) refers to as ‘pirates’, but we never thought he’d go this far. Seems there really is a new sheriff in town…