PokerStars' Scheinberg to Pay $50 Million to End Probe

PokerStars Chairman Mark Scheinberg agreed to forfeit $50 million to the U.S. to end prosecutors’ bid for what they claimed were proceeds of an illegal money-laundering operation.

PokerStars and two other Internet poker companies last year agreed to settle money-laundering allegations for at least $731 million. PokerStars agreed at the time to forfeit $547 million to the U.S. and pay an additional $184 million owed by foreign players of Full Tilt Poker, whose assets it acquired.

Prosecutors claimed that Scheinberg had received direct and indirect distributions from his company that were subject to the 2012 agreement. Scheinberg, while disputing this, agreed to make the payment without admitting wrongdoing, according to a filing yesterday in Manhattan federal court.

Scheinberg’s lawyer, Miguel Estrada of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment on the accord.

Prosecutors in 2011 obtained indictments against 11 people for allegedly circumventing U.S. laws preventing banks in the country from processing player payments. Among the individual defendants was PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg, Mark Scheinberg’s father.

Not Defendant

Mark Scheinberg wasn’t a defendant in that case or in the parallel civil forfeiture action resulting in last year’s settlement.

PokerStars, which didn’t admit to any wrongdoing under the 2012 accord, will be permitted to continue doing business as long as it adheres to U.S. law, according to a statement from the company. It said it plans to reopen Full Tilt under new management. The company is based on the Isle of Man.

The forfeiture case is U.S. v. PokerStars, 11-cv-02564, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. The criminal case is U.S. v. Tzvetkoff, 10-cr-00336, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in the Chicago federal courthouse at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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