US Department of Justice to seize Full Tilt Board Member Funds
The other shoe has finally dropped for board members and founders of Full Tilt Poker, with the US Department of Justice announcing a warrant for the seizure of assets of three principals with the company.
After originally indicting several major online poker sites in April -- including Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars -- the US government has escalated its efforts in recent weeks in pursuing its civil case against Full Tilt.
It amended its original suit on September 17 to include allegations against three additional board members of Full Tilt Poker (Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, and Rafe Furst) and revealed specific amounts as to how much each had received in what the Department of Justice is calling a "Ponzi scheme" to defraud players.
The US government has now upped the ante again, issuing a warrant authorizing the seizure of bank accounts and assets held by Lederer, Ferguson, and Furst, including domestic and foreign bank accounts as well as other personal property.
The charges stem from the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in late 2006 in the US, which made it illegal for US banks to knowingly do business with online casino and poker sites.
The original charges levied against Full Tilt and PokerStars in April included not only ignoring the UIGEA but also more serious allegations of wire fraud and money laundering.
While PokerStars quickly refunded more than $100 million to US customers Full Tilt has to date not returned a penny, a large actor in why it remains in the government's crosshairs and subject to the recent developments.
Full Tilt claims to have been in talks with potential investors since June that could see the estimated $150 million it owes repaid to US players but to date no deal has emerged, with the recent moves by the government making any deal even more difficult to consummate.