Ray Bitar has voluntarily surrendered to US authorities in New York and has been arrested for various charges stemming from the US government's claims that the online poker site he served as CEO for was a Ponzi scheme.
Bitar had been living in Dublin, Ireland where Full Tilt is headquartered ever since the US unveiled charges in April 2011 that accused company executives of illegally serving US customers as well as committing wire fraud and money laundering. The charges were later expanded to include civil lawsuits against Bitar as well as other Full Tilt executives and owners such as Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson.
Various reports point to Bitar surrendering to authorities as an important step in a potential deal to sell Full Tilt to online poker site PokerStars, which began serious negotiations with Full Tilt after a previous planned deal to sell its assets to France-based Tapie Group fell through.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have also filed a new indictment against Bitar detailing Bitar’s alleged attempts to conceal the precariousness of Full Tilt’s cash situation following the Aprill 2011 crackdown on online poker.
According to federal prosecutors, Bitar knowingly misled Full Tilt’s customers about the reason Full Tilt could not repay US players the estimated $200 million owed to them -- and an estimated $390 million owed to total players around the world.
At the time Full Tilt told US players in a press release it was limited by “legal and jurisdictional issues,” but Bitar allegedly was aware that Full Tilt had less than $60 million in cash on hand.
Full Tilt remained open to international players until it lost its gaming license in June 2011 and shuttered its online site completely, with hundreds of millions of dollars in funds on deposit left in limbo for players in the US and around the world.