After six long years since the Black Friday devastated the online poker world, the scandal left by previous Full Tilt Poker owners still continues to rear its ugly head and make it to the news headlines this end of 2017.
On December 8 Friday, BBC said that the former Full Tilt Poker CEO Raymond Bitar laundered money via the Channel Island of Guernsey, an island located between the U.K. and France. This has resulted in a total amount of £9.5 million (or $12.6 million) remitted to the government of the United States.
In 2015, the money was discovered right after Guernsey and the US Department of Treasury underwent an agreement in which both countries will share half of any seized laundered money and other criminal-related activities in offshore bank accounts in the country. Overall, there was £10.6 million (or $14.3 million), which comprises of the money associated with Full Tilt and another case, which was remitted to the United States. Based on the agreement made by the two countries, we can assume that the government of Guernsey has added to its coffers an equal amount of the money.
Bitar's assets were seized subsequently after an investigation that included Guernsey authorities restraining bank accounts and sharing financial records from 2012 to 2015.
Government representatives from the two countries, Guernsey Attorney General Megan Pullum, QC, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General at United States Department of Justice John Cronan, have expressed their sincere gratitude to the cooperation that ultimately led to the sharing of funds in this case. Pullum said to BBC, "Guernsey has an ongoing and exemplary commitment to international co-operation and mutual legal assistance and we are therefore extremely pleased to announce this asset share."
Raymond Bitar is the one responsible for the Full Tilt Poker operations. When he was CEO, the online poker site grew into a massive billion-dollar gambling company as well as it had signed up some of the many of the biggest names in the world of poker to represent the Full Tilt brand.
When Black Friday swooped down and Full Tilt Poker was abruptly shut down, it became clear that the company did not have player funds in segregated accounts, which left players unable to access their money until (the former parent company of PokerStars) Rational Group stepped in and made a deal with the US Department of Justice in August 2012 to acquire the company and return funds to the players.
Over $300 million of player funds went missing after the site was shut down. According to the federal government intel, about $160 million belonged to the Americans. As of 2016, 94% of all petitions filed to reclaim money from Full Tilt Poker had been paid back to the player victims. Those successful petitions have reached to roughly $112 million.
On April 15, 2013, which marked the second anniversary of Black Friday, Bitar had pled guilty to unlawful Internet gambling and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud.
U.S. District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Loretta Preska spared Bitar jail time, as Bitar had a serious heart condition and was "unlikely to live more than a couple years and nearly penniless". Instead, he was sentenced to time served and was ordered to forfeit his assets, which include his $40 million in cash and various homes.
Very little was heard from him for two years, until he got married in October 2015 to Jacquelyn Lucas in a multi-million dollar ceremony. Not only were curious folks wondering how Bitar had the moolah to spend for an extravagant wedding, but he also appeared to be physically healthy and not someone who's knocking on death's door anytime soon.