Raymond Bitar, the Chief Executive Officer of the beleaguered online poker room, Full Tilt Poker, was arrested at JFK International Airport as he arrived on a plane from outside the country. Forty year old Bitar turned himself in to the Justice Department, 15 months after charges were brought against executives of three of the biggest US facing online poker sites, including Full Tilt Poker and Poker Stars.
Bitar appeared before court yesterday and pleaded not guilty. He was allowed out on bail after posting a $2.5 million bond.
Since Black Friday in April 2011, Bitar has remained in Ireland in an attempt to reach an agreement to have the site acquired by investors. While negotiations between FTP and the French investors Groupe Bernard Tapie nearly culminated in an acquisition deal, talks fell through at the last moment.
It is currently being speculated that Full Tilt Poker will be purchased by its arch rival, Poker Stars, with the details being thrashed out behind closed doors. A representative for Poker Stars would not comment on the progress of talks between the group and Full Tilt Poker.
Raymond Bitar and ten other men were changed by the US Department of Justice for money laundering, illegal gambling and bank fraud. Six men have come forward to plead guilty while the other five, Bitar included, opted to remain outside US soil and not enter pleas. However, this all changed when Bitar flew into the US after the weekend and handed himself in.
In a statement issued by Bitar on Monday, he said that he was aware that people were very angry with him and he understood why. He acknowledged that Full Tilt Poker should never have reached a position where it could not replay its player funds. The site owes hundreds of millions of dollars to online poker players.
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