On Tuesday the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, announced an amendment to the civil money laundering complaint that was first filed on Black Friday. The amendment names Lederer, Ferguson, Furst and Bitar as owners of Tiltware LLC, the company responsible for Full Tilt Poker. The amendment now alleges that Full Tilt Poker knowingly credited player accounts with funds they were unable to collect.
“Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme,” said Bharara in a press release. “Not only did the firm orchestrate a massive fraud against the U.S. banking system, as previously alleged, Full Tilt also cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. As described, Full Tilt insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited with the company.”
To continue operating Full Tilt Poker in the wake of financial transaction processing problems, the company was forced to allow players to play with funds they had little or no ability to collect. When players lost money to players looking to withdraw the company did not have enough money on hand despite public promises that all player deposits were kept in seperate accounts.
The amended complaint alleges that as of March 31, 2011 the company owed $390 million to players, $150 million of that to U.S. players, and only $60 million in company accounts.
Between April 2007 and April 2011 the company, and its Board of Directors, distributed $443 million to members of the Board and other owners. Bitar allegedly received $41 million, Lederer $42 million, Furst $11.7 million and Ferguson, who was the Chairman of the Board, was allocated a staggering $87,486,182.87 – only $25 million of which was paid to him, the rest is listed in company documents as “owed”. All of that money is now subject to seizure by the Department of Justice as proceeds of money laundering.
This marks the first time that Lederer, Ferguson and Furst have been named as owners of the company in relation to Black Friday. According to the amendment the four “insiders” own the following percentages of Full Tilt Poker:
- Chris Ferguson – 19.2%
- Howard Lederer – 8.6%
- Ray Bitar – 7.8%
- Rafe Furst – 2.6%
The amendment also opens up the possibility that any property owned by those four, including houses, could be seized as proceeds of a criminal activity.