• Over $78 Million Neteller, Citadel and FirePay Funds Siezed By DOJ

    19 May 2007


    By now most people with an interest in online gambling know about the arrest of the Neteller founders and the confiscation by the US DOJ of over $55 million of customer funds said to be in transfer through US financial institutions at the time of the arrests.

    But did you know that on May 14th the Optimal Group, owners of the e-wallet FirePay, reported they are voluntarily working with the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York (which coincidentally is the same office that arrested the Neteller duo) in connection with an investigation into the online gambling industry? They revealed the US Attorney’s Office issued seizure warrants for certain company funds; approximately $4.2 million in a FirePay reserve account and about $15 million Optimal Payments has in a money market account.

    Did you also know about Citadel? May 14th in NewsWire “Citadel Commerce Corp, a wholly owned subsidiary of ESI, today announced… 9.25 million Merchant Reserve Funds frozen by its processor in the USA have now been seized by the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ). All of these funds are Merchants’ Reserves related to internet gaming except for approximately US$ 941,000 of Citadel’s own capital. The company is continuing to work with the DoJ through its legal counsel to resolve the situation.”

    Several things immediately come to mind when reading these reports. First, the monies seized and being held by the US DOJ totals over $78,450,000. Second, the releases from Optimal and Citadel were the same day. Third, every report from all three companies, Neteller, Citadel and FirePay, clearly states that the companies are voluntarily working with the DOJ. These companies represent the three largest e-wallets operating on the web today. Correction: three largest e-wallets that were operating on the web when the DOJ made the Neteller arrests. If a person was gambling online, in all probability they were using one of these three e-wallets to fund their accounts. I know if someone had seized a couple million dollars of my money, I’d cooperate too. But to what extent are these companies cooperating? The reports from Citadel and Optimal prove the US DOJ is still moving on these charges and does not appear to be slowing down.

    The US DOJ is definitely on a mission, over zealous and a little out of control. The question is, is that mission based on facts and law or beliefs and morals. I believe they will continue on this mission until they are challenged by a court of law. The longer they can put off that day of reckoning, the better their odds. The longer they can intimidate, the less likely they will be challenged. They are currently under fire for overstepping their boundaries with the Patriot Act and the firing of US Attorneys. But no one seems to want to challenge them on this and the American people are very reluctant to become actively involved. They’d rather someone else do it.

    We need a hero, but I’m afraid they are a scarce commodity these days. By now, I’m sure whatever heroes are left in the world are a little tired of sticking their necks out just to get thrown under the bus. I have heard though that David Carruthers, ex-CEO of BetOnSports, may be applying for the position.

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