For those who haven't heard: http://www.pokernews.com/news/2011/04/online-poker-big-three-indicted-10218.htm
Remember, I'm not some legal expert. I'm a professional poker player. Please don't bombard me with questions as I probably don't know anymore than you do. I have to figure out my own situation. You might find some of this helpful:
Thoughts from Free Phil Ivey:
So long as Full Tilt and Pokerstars don't freak out they will prevail in court. The government has to prove these charges. Legal precedent is not on their side. The govt.'s case seems entirely circumstantial and appears built around the suspicious behavior of the sites interactions with processors.
The government will argue that PS and FT acted suspiciously and thus must have known that their conduct was illegal. That will not hold water in court, however, because FT and PS will attack the heart of the law and argue that online poker simply is not prohibited under any federal statute and therefore their suspicious activities with payment processors is utterly irrelevant.
The government is basically prosecuting a "thought crime" (PS and FT acted as if they knew what they were doing was illegal therefore it "was" illegal"). That is not how our legal system works. Even if you "think" you are committing a crime - no crime is committed if what you did actually was not a crime in the first place.
Yes I am pissed off. Just read the press released by the DOJ and you can see it is a publicity stunt. It actually reads more like an advertisement for future political careers than a serious prosecution of criminal conduct. Yes I play online poker for a good % of my disposable income. Yes I am an attorney. Yes my firm will be defending anyone charged under this bull**** law pro bono.
The FBI and DOJ better be hoping and praying that no terrorist attack or other major crimes hit within the near future or heads will roll (as they should). What a disgrace.
In order to be convicted of money laundering the funds have to be involved in a crime. If FS and PS prove that operating an online poker site is not a crime than they cannot be convicted of money laundering.
I stand by my statement that DOJ has zilch and will be humiliated by competent counsel. When the dust settles the Govt. will be lucky to get anyone from the poker sites unless it is a minor plea to save face.
As to the fraud and allegations re: Sun Bank - First of all the government has to explain how the bank was actually defrauded. No bank was ever financially harmed in any material way according to the complaint. The DOJ is missing a critical step. This is not a case where a bank was "defrauded' resulting in a loss of FDIC insured government backed funds. The banks were not harmed. All the government can prove is that payments were processed for companies who were not operating according to their stated purpose. So what? Thousands of companies do the same thing everyday. This is very common and does not constitute a crime in and of itself.
The banks had clearly set up their own rules and guidelines for which payments to process. It is not a crime to violate an internal bank policy. The defense argument remains that there is no underling crime upon which to base a fraud charge. This was not money used for drug traffiking being run through a middle man. Instead it was a bank transaction using a middle man business who was dishonest about his business activity. The money from that transaction was then forwarded to online poker sites. No crime is committed at any step in that transaction UNLESS the DOJ can prove that operating an online poker site violates some federal law. The DOJ MUST be able to prove that operating an online poker site is unlawful gambling and as such online poker sites cannot lawfully do business with US banks. I personally do not believe the DOJ can bridge that gap because online poker does not affirmatively violate any federal statute I have seen or reviewed.
The purchase of Sun Bank does not seem directly tied to the poker sites themselves. Even assuming that it is - purchasing an interest in a bank to provide a service processing a certain type of lawful transactions is not a crime. Does it look suspicious? Yes. But the DOJ needs to prove more than that.
The DOJ's prosecution is based on suspicious activity not actual criminal conduct and that is why I have called it a "thought crime" prosecution. If the DOJ cannot prove that running an online poker site violates some federal law and constitutes unlawful "gambling" this indictment will result in acquittals after trial in my opinion.
Originally Posted by doctesseractyl View Post
Just give your opinion on this part of the indictment, if ur really a lawyer. Will this part of the indictment hold up?
"Paragraph 32 [...] defendants [...] violated titled 31 of the USC Section 5363" http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-...SCSIV&PDFS=YES
The interpretation of this particular section is CRITICAL. The first question is what does it mean to be involved in "the business of betting or wagering" pursuant to 31 USC 5363. To find the answer you first look to 31 USC 5362 for the definition of the term "bet or wager". The definitions from Section 5362 for "bet or wager" can be found here. The definition is long or I would post it here but the first part states:
(1) Bet or wager.— The term “bet or wager”—
(A) means the staking or risking by any person of something of value upon the outcome of a contest of others, a sporting event, or a game subject to chance, upon an agreement or understanding that the person or another person will receive something of value in the event of a certain outcome;
Remember this law was originally intended to ban sports betting. That is clear from the statute. Is poker "a game subject to chance" or is it a game of skill? All things in life are subject to "chance". Chance is a term usually used for lotteries. Furthermore, federal courts have already ruled that poker does not fit this definition.
Another thing to keep in mind, take a look at Section 2 of Section 5362. It states:
(2) Business of betting or wagering.— The term “business of betting or wagering” does not include the activities of a financial transaction provider, or any interactive computer service or telecommunications service.
This is not cut and dry folks. The DOJ is going to have a hell of a time making this stick imo.
To answer your question the DOJ success rate at trial (which is all that matters) is 77-80%. Contrary to you uninformed opinion that is not 100%. I have experience dealing with DOJ attorneys and have beat them - so have many other competent attorneys. Most of the time the accused cannot afford competent counsel. That is not the case here.
Furthermore, most criminal prosecutions are straight forward cases that are easy to prosecute - they are basically impossible for the government to lose. This is not one of those cases.
Anyone familiar with the U.S attorneys office from the SNY knows that it is nothing more than a bully pulpit for launching political careers by making high profile prosecutions. It is disgusting. You challenge my allegation that the prosecution is nothing more than an advertisement and self aggrandizing publicity statement to launch the political careers of the involved government attorneys. Read the press release yourself - it is chalk full of "back slapping" especially towards the end.
For those already looking for possible workarounds, Satyr's post might be of use.:
I've lived abroad for over two years now. So I know a lot about this. 3 good options are: Buenos Aires Argentina, Lima Peru and The Philippines.
GETTING A VISA...DONT BOTHER?
Actually getting a permanent residency visa somewhere is a pain in the ass and generally not easy to do (especially in first world countries). You basically need to prove you are rich and then jump through all these hoops to get a visa.
However, there are some countries that you can simply show up at and stay indefinitely on a tourist visa. These are obviously all 3rd world countries. The ones I know of and have lived in are: Argentina, Peru and The Philippines.
In Argentina you are given a 90day tourist visa however u can simply leave the country and immediately re-enter. In Buenos Aires, it is pretty easy as you just take a 3 hr boat ride across the bay to Uruguay.
Another way is to simply overstay your tourist visa. This is generally a very bad idea in most countries as there are stiff punishments. However, in Peru this is not the case. They simply charge you $1 per day that you over stay. I stayed in Peru for over 8 months once. Upon leaving they tallied up the days I overstayed and charged me a $100 and somethin dollars. No questions asked. You can also do the leave and come back trick if you dont want to technically break the law, but I don't think its necessary. I currently live in Lima and I highly recommend it.
In the Philippines, they let you keep extending your tourist visa. You pay an extension fee every couple months of $30 or so per month and they are happy to let you stay as long as you want.
Most countries allow 90 days as a tourist, however these countries give Americans 180 days: Canada, Mexico and the UK. So you could live half the year in one of those countries and then the other half in another.
FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNT
Most countries wont simply let a not resident open a bank account. Peru it is possible I hear but technically the banks are not suppose to let you. In Argentina, it is impossible. The Philippines seems like you can open one easily according to google answers. I need to do some research on this as I was always too lazy to bother setting up a foreign account. But now it looks like this is going to be necessary.
In theory, you can take a trip to a country that allows this and open an account. You dont have to necessarily live there. Accessing the money can be done using a ATM card which would work most anywhere in the world. However, you are going to get fee'd 2-3% usually for making a foreign transaction. Accessing larger amounts of money could be tricky though if you are not in the country. There is probably some way around this. You could definitely do international wires to your US account but that usually requires you physically going into the bank which is tricky if you aren't in the country.