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FBI Raids Illegal Gambling And Money Laundering Rings

By: Joan Peppin, Thursday April 18th 2013
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Legislators and regulators have been stressing that online gambling activity can be used for money laundering. However till early this week there was no evidence that this was actually happening. Then on April 16 news broke out of nationwide FBI raids on gambling rings in the United States. These gambling rings apparently involved both land based and online activity.

The FBI raids were focused on several locations in New York City, but took place elsewhere in the US as well. The most high profile location in New York was the art gallery owned by billionaire Helly Nahmad in the Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue. The raids were followed by arrests of dozens of people, most of who were from New York. Arrests were also made in Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and other places. The charges include gambling and money laundering. Documentary evidence was also seized.

During a Department of Justice briefing, held later on Tuesday, it was revealed that the raids were connected to a federal investigation into a gambling operation that was allegedly associated with Russian-organized crime groups that ran high-stakes poker games and offshore online sports betting involving Wall Street financiers, Hollywood celebrities and professional athletes. Those indicted include poker professionals Bill Edler, Peter Feldman, Abe Mosseri, Joe Mancuso, Vadim Trincher, John Hanson and Eddie Ting. The defendants also include Nahmad and poker organiser Molly Bloom, who is said to arrange card parties with celebrities like A-Rod, Tobey Maguire, Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon. The indictments were made by Preet Bharara of the United States District Court of the Southern District of New York.

According to reports from NBC 4, the Russian organizations used a sophisticated money-laundering scheme to move tens of millions of dollars in gambling proceeds from the former Soviet Union through shell companies in Cyprus into various investments and shell companies in the US. The scheme involved card games and illegal gambling websites. It is estimated that over $100 million were laundered in this manner. The Russian syndicates have been named as the Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization and the Nahmad-Trincher Organization. Leaders of these organizations include professional poker player Vadim Trincher and Russian crime boss Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov who is one of the world’s 10 most wanted fugitives. Prosecutors claim that Trincher won hundreds of thousands of dollars at an illegal poker game at The Plaza hotel and ran the world’s largest sports book out of his apartment. Tokhtakhounov has already been indicted in New York on charges of bribing officials at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games to fix figure-skating events.

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