Raymond Bitar, Full Tilt CEO, Released on BailJuly 17, 2012
After being arrested on charges of operating a Ponzi scheme, Raymond Bitar, the CEO of Full Tilt Poker, was released on a bail worth $2.5 million. On Black Friday, last year,USfederal authorities seized Full Tilt Poker and other online poker operators such as Absolute Poker and PokerStars for illegal activities.
Bitar Pleads Not Guilty to Charges
Bitar, 40, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and has claimed that he has been working tenuously to repay all the customers. While Full Tilt Poker has shut down its activities, its competitors such as Titan Poker are forging ahead with a software upgrade. Bitar and over 10 other major heads of the online poker industry came under the spotlight after Daniel Tzvetkoff, a businessman fromQueensland, became an informant for the prosecution.
Raymond Bitar has been living inIrelandever since the charges were made public. He flew to theUSlast week to face the charges. Instabill, a company which processes payments and was acting as a guise for deluding players into making transactions at the poker site, was owned by Tzvetkoff.
Tzvetkoff Brokered Deal with Prosecutors
After he was arrested in 2010 at a casino inLas Vegas, Tzvetkoff remained in a jail inNew Yorkfor several months. Upon knowing that he was facing a prison sentence of more than 70 years, he brokered a deal with the prosecution.
Tzvetkoff turned in almost 100,000 documents concerning the Ponzi schemes including e-mails and financial information. While he was once worth almost $82 million, today, he is living inNew York. Once Tzvetkoff turned an informant, it was a simple matter for theUSfederal authorities to seize numerous organizations that carried out illegal activities.
Over $150 Million to be Re-Paid to Full Tilt Players
Bitar could face new charges including a life sentence for knowingly swindling players into believing that their money was safe at the site. Over $250 million is said to be missing from the bank accounts of Full Tilt Poker, half of which is yet to be re-paid to the players. Top poker players such as Tom Dwan have also been forced to stay out of the limelight due to their linkup with Full Tilt Poker.
According to Judge Paul Engelmayer, who granted bail to Bitar, the fact that the CEO returned to theUSto face charges should be commended. However, this does not exempt him from facing the serious charges leveled against him.
Bitar to be Electronically Monitored – Feds
Although Raymond Bitar has been released on bail, he will be electronically monitored by federal authorities. The bail set forth by Judge Engelmayer allows Bitar to return to his residence inGlendora,California, after more than a year.
The bail settlement has also requested Bitar to post property worth $2 million so as to ensure his return to the New York District Court as and when needed. The bail package was objected strongly by the prosecution but was overruled by the Judge.
Bitar’s bail has been supported by five individuals who are close friends of the CEO. If Bitar fails to honor his commitments, his supporters will have to pay a hefty price. Until Bitar his financial statements and assets abroad and in theUS, he will remain in federal custody. Prosecutors fear that Bitar will attempt to flee the country to escape the charges.