Stephen Lawrence, who founded Neteller together with John David Lafebvre, pleaded guilty today to charges of criminal conspiracy.
Neteller processed billions of Dollars related to internet gambling.
In a court room in Manhattan , NY, Stephen Lawrence said that he acknowledged that facilitating bets with offshore bookies was illegal.
He agreed to be partially accountable for the 100 Million Dollars the government wants from people who were involved in the operation. He is cooperating with the US investigators.
Lawrence and Lefebvre, who are Canadian citizens, were arrested in January as reported by games and Casino
Neteller is based in the Isle of Man and was traded on the London Stock Exchange.
The Company announced yesterday that due to the ongoing investigation by the US authorities, the annual audited accounts for the year ended 31 December 2006 will not be finalised in time to send to shareholders by 30 June 2007. The Company can confirm that the outcome of the investigation is the sole matter delaying the finalisation of the accounts.
Therefor, the Company will not be able to comply with Rule 19 of the AIM Rules that requires an AIM company to send its accounts to shareholders not later than six months after the end of the financial year to which they relate. Consistent with its advice to the USAO to use its best efforts to resolve the investigation by no later than 13 July 2007, the Company is doing its utmost to finalise and post its audited accounts and to announce its full year results for the period ended 31 December 2006 to the market.
Hence, the Company’s ordinary shares will continue to be suspended from trading.
Expert opinion was that the company’s offshore status removed it from the reach of U.S. law.
Prosecutors read U.S. law differently, and charged Lawrence with violating decades-old acts prohibiting the use of electronic wires to send or receive information that facilitates illegal gambling. (and to be precise – illegal gambling according to the wire act is sportsbetting!)
Neteller was never directly involved in placing or taking bets. Neteller is an e-wallet, facilitating the sending and receiving of cash. It was used by both bettors and internet bookies.
Industry experts estimate that Americans bet $6 billion a year online.
According to prosecutors, Neteller processed $5.1 billion worth of transactions in the first half of 2006. Most of this came from US citizens gamling online.
Only a few days after the arrest of Lefebvre and Lawrence Neteller said it would no longer process online gambling transactions for U.S. customers.
Lebebvre had left Neteller in December 2005 while Lawrence left in October last year, just after the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
Lefebvre pleaded not guilty. His case is still pending.