Neteller founders Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre have been charged with money laundering offences by the US Attorney General in the Southern District of New York.
A statement from the office of Michael Garcia added that Lawrence and Lefebvre had been arrested in connection with the “creation and operation of an internet payment services company that facilitated the transfer of billions of dollars of illegal gambling proceeds from US citizens to the owners of various internet gambling companies located overseas”.
Lawrence and Lefebvre were arrested in the early hours of Monday morning, January 15. Lawrence was arrested Monday in the US Virgin Islands and will be presented in federal court in St Thomas today. Lefebvre was arrested in Malibu, California, and will be presented in a Los Angeles court yesterday.
Neteller suspended trading yesterday morning as the news broke.
In a statement released, Neteller said neither Lawrence or Lefebvre had any current position within the company. The statement added: “The group has not received any communication or correspondence from any US authority regarding this or any related matter.”
Lebebvre left Neteller in December 2005 while Lawrence left in October last year, just after the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
The news of the Neteller arrests spelt more bad news for those operators that have not exited the US.
Said one legal source: “It’s a warning shot across the bows for those still taking money from the US.”
He added: “They are aiming their strategy at the finance provision. It is consistent with the UIGEA. It is a more effective strategy than going after the operators themselves, such as PokerStars. When you get the money providers, you get the portfolio of operators.”
One leading operator suggested this was particularly bad news for those poker operators that remain in the US market. “This could be terminal for the poker business in the US. The average punter will not be willing to jump through the hoops (to get their payments through).”