What a bastard Tzvetkoff is....
AFP, FBI investigating poker sites
that flout law
Fallen Australian tech tycoon turned FBI super-grass Daniel Tzvetkoff is enjoying a life of relative freedom in a New York safe house but the accused money laundering mastermind could face serious jail time if he ever returns to Australia
Tzvetkoff, 28, who at his peak in 2008 was worth about $80 million, was arrested in April last year while attending an internet billing conference in Las Vegas, charged with being the mastermind of a $US540 million money-laundering racket.
He was mysteriously released from jail by June last year and is now in a New York safehouse after agreeing to roll over on the online poker kingpins which were illegally operating in the US. Tzvetkoff was accused of creating an illegal system that allowed the overseas-based poker sites to accept billions from US gamblers, while hiding the fact that it was gambling-related income from US banks using phony shell companies and offshore accounts.
US authorities have now shut down the US websites of PokerStars
, Full Tilt Poker
and Absolute Poker and are using Tzvetkoff's knowledge to prosecute their founders over serious money laundering, fraud and bribery allegations.
But Fairfax Media has learned that if Tzvetkoff returns to Australia after helping the FBI with its case he could face serious charges over his Australian company BT Projects - the Australian arm of the online payments company that made him rich, Intabill.
Documents seen by this website show the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has been investigating BT Projects and Tzvetkoff over fraud and falsification of books. ASIC refused to comment.
It is understood that ASIC's investigation continued from claims made by Tzvetkoff's former business partner Salvatore "Sam" Sciacca, who sued Tzvetkoff for $100 million after realising the extent of the IT whiz's illegal activities.
The lawsuit has been stayed after Tzvetkoff's arrest by the FBI. He has filed for bankruptcy but is believed by authorities to have a secret stash of $100 million.
Sciacca was originally Tzvetkoff's lawyer but became his business partner after seeing promise in Tzvetkoff's online payments system, which competed with PayPal
and allowed companies to take payments from customers online in a safe and secure fashion.
Sciacca's business nouse helped secure many of Intabill's business deals while Tzvetkoff took care of the technical and financial side and building the product. Sources said that while Tzvetkoff was a technical genius - processing transactions online when he was just 16 - he was ordinary in a boardroom environment.
In his statement of claim filed in the Supreme Court of Queensland in 2009, Sciacca alleged Tzvetkoff diverted funds payable to the company to cover personal expenses and to buy goods and services for his own benefit without authorisation from the company.
In Australia, Tzvetkoff bought a $27 million Gold Coast mansion, a black Lamborghini with numberplate "BALLER", a 98-foot super-yacht, a Queensland nightclub and even a V8 supercar team.
But Sciacca claims Tzvetkoff was also duplicating his Australian lifestyle in the US using company funds. This includes hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on luxury cars, lavish parties costing up to $US25,000 a night and $80,000 on "golf membership".
"The stereotypical young fellow throwing the cash around, that was Daniel mate - the cigars, the bath tubs at the back of the 100-foot yacht, the racing, the planes - he liked the celebrity status, walking into nightclubs and slipping the guy $100 as he walked in," said a former confidante of Tzvetkoff.
"Everyone knew Daniel in Vegas ... he was akin to Leonardo di Caprio's character in Catch Me If You Can."
Sciacca also claims Tzvetkoff falsified the company's books to falsely reflect that all funds owing to customers had been paid, concealed inaccurate entries from Sciacca and inaccurately maintained the company's books to reflect that the company made a larger profit than it had.
Intabill's payment system could be used by pretty much any company doing business online and Tzvetkoff and Sciacca watched as their company grew at about 20 per cent per month. But it all came crashing down in 2009 when the company folded with debts of $80 million.
Yet, despite his company collapsing and a bankruptcy filing in January last year, Tzvetkoff continued to work offshore until he was arrested in Las Vegas.
It is understood that all of Intabill's staff were left high and dry after the company's bankruptcy, including Tzvetkoff's personal assistant who was found to be personally liable for $130,000 in expenses that Tzvetkoff put on the assistant's American Express card. However, Sciacca, who was cleared of any wrongdoing, is believed to have personally cleared up this and other debts owed by the company including staff entitlements and superannuation benefits.
The fallout from Tzvetkoff's arrest is now reaching Australia, with revelations today that the Australian Federal Police and the FBI are jointly investigating the big online poker sites for operating in Australia in breach of the law.
About 700,000 Australians spend $1 billion a year on online casino sites despite the Interactive Gambling Act prohibiting the provision of "an interactive gambling service to customers in Australia".
If past experience is anything to go by, Tzvetkoff could be free to leave fairly quickly as the poker kingpins who were arrested are expected to cut deals with US authorities. Already, one of the 11 people charged in the FBI crackdown on poker sites, Bradley Franzen, has plead guilty to bank fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling offences.
Some have claimed the arrests are a cash grab by US authorities. In 2008, Anurag Dikshit, one of the big names behind Party Poker
, agreed to pay $300 million to US authorities to escape illegal gambling charges.
Let's hope the FBI do send him back here.