The Aviation Club de France has been raided by police and up to 12 people was taken into custody after allegations of breaches of employment law and money laundering.
Have you ever played poker in the Aviation Club de France (ACF)?
If you have, then you will be aware of the James Bond feel to the place. It has this sense of an upmarket drink that’s shaken not stirred. Only, in the early hours of Tuesday morning – it got stirred.
Every James Bond movie has a bad guy and it seems within the corridors of power in the Parisian gaming rooms, members of the Corsican mafia fill those roles.
According to PokerNews reporter, Giovanni Angioni, 12 people were taken into custody after members of the French national judicial police raided the oldest gaming room in Paris at the bequest of Claire Thepaut and Serge Tournaire: judges at the Grand Instance Court in Paris.
The French online newspaper Le Point said the 12 arrests were employees with the ACF Director of the Games Committee Marcel Francisci amongst the group. Sources that wish to remain anonymous believe that the ACF will not be the only gaming room to be targeted by police in the coming weeks.
The accusations of irregularities in employment law, and money laundering are nothing new for Parisian clubs. In 2011, Le Cercle Wagram, L’Eldo and Le Cercle Haussman were all raided and eventually shut down, after a long investigation into the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing by their owners and ties to the Corsican mafia.
There were also simultaneous swoops in Corsica, where further arrests were made and over £700,000 seized. It was reported in the press that the Corsican mafia took an interest in the clubs, as prospective money laundering sites, after the poker boom helped increase revenues.
A source, which wishes to remain anonymous, told me that this latest raid has nothing to do with poker but more about the management of the money coming through table games such as Baccarat.
In 2004, the World Poker Tour Grand Prix de Paris, at the ACF, was raided by two armed men, and players were robbed of around €70,000 in cash. Surinder Sunar went on to beat Tony G in a now infamous heads-up encounter. The ACF does not feature as a venue in the WPT Season XIII schedule, the first time it has not been a staple since Season VIII.