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Online Poker Middleman Pleads Guilty

Andrew Lang -- who ran transaction processing companies that helped online poker companies send and receive money from clients in the US -- pleaded guilty to charges in US District court including  conspiracy to commit tax fraud and violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The charges stemmed from the US government's crackdown in April 2011 on three of the world's largest online poker sites -- including PokerStars and Full Tilt -- that saw company executives and other middlemen such as Lang swept up in the prosecution and charged as well.

Lang admitted to being a middleman who helped online poker operators skirt US laws passed in late 2006 designed to block banks in the US from processing transactions from online gambling sites; instead of making online gambling illegal the US laws were drafted in order to block the source of money to sites themselves.

With help from Lang and others online sites were able to continue to process deposits from US players by working with financial brokers who created fake companies to mislead banks into processing payments from seemingly legitimate companies not involved in online gambling.

Lang joins other defendants who have also pleaded guilty, with others still awaiting trial. While several well-known executives and poker pros such as Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson have been hit with similar charges, to date the only defendants who have faced trial have been relatively smaller fish in the food chain such as Lang.

The charges carry up to a penalty of 30 years in federal prison but Lang will likely only serve a fraction of that time, with the odds good that evidence he provided to build other cases will likely help him when his sentencing is due on September 24.

29-Feb-2012, 07:05

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