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U.S. indicts online poker companies

April 15, 2011 at 5:55 PM

NEW YORK, April 15 (UPI) -- Eleven people were indicted in New York City on gambling, bank fraud and money laundering charges in a crackdown in Internet poker, federal prosecutors said.

The indictment announced Friday targeted Internet poker Web sites that raked in millions of dollars from American players and allegedly disguised the revenues as online merchandise purchases.

The indictment named principals of Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, which prosecutors identified as the largest online poker companies operating in the United States.

While the companies are officially located outside the United States, they allegedly violated U.S. law by accepting payments they presumably were aware came from an illegal activity, the U.S. attorney's office said in a written statement.

"As charged, these defendants concocted an elaborate criminal fraud scheme, alternately tricking some U.S. banks and effectively bribing others to assure the continued flow of billions in illegal gambling profits," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. "Foreign firms that choose to operate in the United States are not free to flout the laws they don't like simply because they can't bear to be parted from their profits."

The indictment also seeks some $3 billion in penalties and alleged gambling proceeds from dozens of bank accounts in 14 countries, the statement said.

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