Failed Gold Coast businessman Daniel Tzvetkoff has been arrested in Las Vegas on charges of bank fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and other charges that carry a potential penalty of 75 years in prison.
Tzvetkoff, whose internet payments company Intabill collapsed in March last year with $80 million of debts, was arrested on Friday morning US time on charges that he helped online gambling companies launder $US540 million into offshore accounts.
Tzvetkoff’s US lawyer says he is distraught by the charges, has pleaded not guilty and will apply for bail this week.
The arrest follows an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a legal stoush with several US gambling companies who claim Tzvetkoff owes them money.
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In June last year, US-based gaming company Kolyma Corporation, which owns a number of well-known gambling brands including Full Tilt Poker, sued Intabill for $52 million in online payments that it claims were received by Tzvetkoff’s company but not forwarded to Kolyma.
Tzvetkoff has also been sued by his former business partner, Sam Sciacca for a reported $80 million.
The US Department of Justice alleges Tzvetkoff tried to get around US internet gambling laws (betting online is illegal in the US) by trying to disguise gambling transactions.
“Tzvetkoff and his co-conspirators created dozens of shell companies with names unrelated to gambling – complete with phony websites that made the companies seem legitimate – and represented to banks that the… transactions were on behalf of these companies,” a statement from the Department of Justice says.
“On May 3, 2008, one of Tzvetkoff’s co-conspirators in an email told Tzvetkoff that he had hired programmers to develop ‘unique’ websites for the shell companies so that if someone was ‘checking the companies out there is absolutely no way to tie the companies together.’ Tzvetkoff responded: ‘This is all perfect!'”
Reports suggest that Tzvetkoff travelled to the US specifically for a conference on internet billing – presumably attended by some of the companies who he has been in legal stoushes with.
Tzvetkoff, who filed for bankruptcy last year, was listed on the BRW Young Rich list with a fortune of $80 million (shared with Sciacca) but has been forced to sell a string of luxury assets, including a Gold Coast mansion, a Brisbane nightclub and his black Lamborghini.