USA Charges Canadian with Online Gambling Offences

Published Monday, August 10, 2009 -

The Department of Justice, in the USA, alleges that 34-year-old Douglas Rennick, a Canadian resident has committed bank fraud, money laundering and other offenses in order to disguise the distribution of money being sent to US players of gambling Web sites. Mr.Rennick has subsequently been indicted on charges for his role in processing more than $350 million for online gambling operators.

Rennick opened US bank accounts under various business names between 2007 and June 2009 and according to the Department of Justice in the States he, "falsely represented that the accounts would be used for such purposes as issuing rebate checks, refund checks, sponsorship checks, affiliate checks and minor payroll processing,"

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York claims that the accounts were used to process payouts for offshore online gambling companies that offered poker and casino games. Authorities in the USA were alerted to Mr.Rennick's alleged illegal activity when he opened a business account at a California branch of the Washington Mutual Bank. The US authorities claim more than $350 million was funneled through the accounts from a Cyprus bank.

A spokeswoman for the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Yusill Scribner declined to comment when asked about extraditing him. Canada will extradite its citizens only if the laws under which they are charged are similar to Canadian laws. An industry lawyer said that Mr. Rennick intentionally handled only winnings from poker games. A lawyer for the Interactive Gaming Council, Jeff Ifrah commented, as a game of skill rather than chance, poker is legal in New York State. Prosecutors are seeking the forfeiture of $566m USD in proceeds from the alleged conspiracy and if convicted, Rennick faces a maximum penalty of 55 years in prison and $1.75m in fines.

Two other Canadians, in 2007, Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, the founders of Neteller PLC, which is a U.K. based company that processed online gambling transactions, were arrested in the United States and charged with criminal conspiracy. The two later pleaded guilty with Neteller being forced to close its U.S.A. operations.

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