Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar has surrendered to the FBI. According to sources, he is being held in New York state as he awaits arraignment.
Bitar has been staying in Ireland ever since his indictment last year in the Black Friday scandal. Federal law enforcement officials allege that he has engaged in an ongoing conspiracy to cover up the fact that the company is facing significant financial challenges. Prosecutors allege that the firm does not have the money to repay its players.
Bitar is facing many counts of fraud over the fallout of Full Tilt Poker. If convicted, he could spend up to 145 years in a U.S. federal prison.
Bitar said that it was inexcusable that things got as bad as they did. He said he knew many people were going to be very upset with him, but suggested it was a management issue rather than an attempt to defraud Full Tilt players and affiliates. Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown said he disagrees.
Devlin-Brown said that Full Tilt only needed $350 million to meet the financial obligations to Full Tilt players. If Full Tilt executives hadn’t paid themselves $430 million then they would have had no trouble repaying their players.
The outrage over the new case dwarfs anything that arose from the Black Friday scandal. Prosecutors said that Bitar and the other players in the Black Friday indictment would have only faced a few years in prison if they had been convicted of last year’s charges. However, they are taking these new charges much more seriously. The new indictment made it clear that Bitar could be in prison the rest of his life.
Bitar maintains that he is doing everything he can to help repay Full Tilt players. He claims that he returned to the United States to make amends and hopes that Full Tilt players will have their money back shortly.