U.S. Secret Service targets Liechtenstein/U.S. Payment Processor, Confirmed
On February 9, when players on poker skins of the Everleaf Gaming Network logged into their accounts, they immediately received a pop-up with a new “Terms and Conditions” page. Notably added was the following:
No person who is resident in Malta, France and USA may open an account, play, or in any other way participate in the ELG offerings and/or services.
Almost immediately, in answer to questions rising from the network’s poker players, a representative from Minted Poker, one of the Everleaf poker skins that catered to U.S. players, posted on the TwoPlusTwo poker forum that the network had decided to “withdraw its services from U.S. customers”. Such a decision, according to “Minted Neil” came after ELG had reportedly received letters from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to “[c]ease and desist” their U.S. poker operations. Neil referenced that such actions followed the loss of a payment processor, with some processed funds being seized and “held back” by DHS.
This was the only source of information for ELG poker players, and speculation immediately began that the network was insolvent and, lacking a formal press release, the impromptu statement by a skin representative was not sufficient evidence to provide the ‘whole story’.
DiamondFlushPoker can confirm, that indeed, the United States Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security, has taken action against Everleaf Gaming, via one of their payment processors, Causash Establishment. Causash is apparently the company name that was used to transfer funds for ELG to/from a U.S. bank. Causash is related to, or created by, a Liechtenstein company named Juricon Trehand Anstalt, which is in the business of “setting up domestic and foreign companies, foundations and trusts, to safeguard and administer private assets, as well as for commercial, financial, or property transactions, accounting, reporting and auditing, financial, economic and tax consultancy”.
Beginning in at least February 2009, the a Task Force of the Secret Service field office in Seattle,Washington began tracking Everleaf transactions in and out of the U.S. By using undercover identities, agents opened accounts, deposited, played and withdrew from the network using U.S. bank accounts to follow the money trail. At least three ELG poker skins, www.PokerRoyal.com, www.everleafpoker.com, and www.RaiderPoker.com were included in the investigation. Two of the three domains referenced, are currently not in use.
According to court documents, a U.S. bank account used by Causash rarely held funds, but rather, almost immediately converted the foreign currency to U.S. dollars and transferred the funds to other bank accounts. Between January 2010 and August 2011, Causash sent a total of 273 wire transfers to a Bank of New York account, totaling $ 734,835.00. A warrant was issued in October 2011, commanding Bank of N.Y. to seize wire transfers to/from Causash via the specified bank account, over a two-week period. No wires during the period in question were seized, but pursuant to a second amended warrant, an account balance of $ 27,465.93 was seized and forwarded to the U.S. Secret Service.
In July of 2011, another Secret Service agent from the Asset Forfeiture Division, opened an undercover account with everleafpoker.com, using an identity based in Washington D.C. The agent used Western Union to fund the account, sending his deposit to a third party in the Philippines. A month later, the same agent, received a withdrawal into his U.S. bank account, such withdrawal being sent from Causash Establishment.
According to court documents, many transactions were followed during the course of the investigation. Among the recipients of withdrawals back to the U.S., the documents name Andrew Robl, a Las Vegas based online poker pro. Robl reportedly received $ 84,926.00 between August and September of 2010 from Causash. In Washington State, in addition to the withdrawals to the undercover officer, other individuals also received wire transfers. One individual, Miff Fagerlie, confirmed to authorities that the $ 3136.63 wired to Fagerlie in April and May 2010, represented funds being collected from playing poker at PokerRoyal.com
The probable cause to obtain the seizure warrants referenced above relied on charges of committing, aiding and abetting 18 U.S.Code 1960(a), Prohibition of unlicensed money transmitting businesses,18 U.S.Code 1084(a) Transmission of Wagering Information(The Wire Act), and 18 U.S.Code 1956(a)(1)(A)(i) and 1956(a)(1)(B)(i) Money Laundering. The formal court document can be seen here.
DiamondFlushPoker contacted a director of Everleaf Gaming Network1 , and received a prompt response from a key official, confirming that seizures did indeed occur, directed at their main U.S. processing channel, Causash. They took time to make clear that they “want to ensure you that the players funds under our licence are segregated and also under the control of the LGA and hence in safe keeping.At the same time we want to emphasise that our non-American players are completely unaffected and that business will continue as usual.”
They included one of the seizure warrants, but neglected to discuss the exact figures involved covering all warrants or whether Western Union was also targeted as a result of the investigation. They did not include a copy of the “cease and desist” order, but such orders have been common in the past. In additional correspondence, ELG key officials did confirm that the full seizure amounts do exceed the relatively small amount of $ 27,465.93 mentioned above, but they would not confirm the total. Because of ongoing proceedings, they are not yet in a position to provide further information.
Everleaf will remain closed to U.S. players for the foreseeable future, but will continue to be available to their non-U.S. player base.
DiamondFlushPoker will update as more information becomes available.