Guernsey Press

Guernsey shares millions of forfeited funds with US

UNITED STATES prosecutors and investigators are recovering more than $14m linked to two US criminal cases in which money was laundered via Guernsey.

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The $14.3m to be shared from Guernsey represents one half of the net proceeds recovered in the island which will retain an equal amount. The move follows the first-time ever sharing of forfeited assets by local officials.

HM Procureur Megan Pullum and HM Comptroller Robert Titterington announced their commitment to transfer the funds to the United States under a bilateral asset sharing agreement between the two parties which came into force in February 2015.

'Today's announcement sends a strong message that the Department of Justice and our counterparts in Guernsey will not rest until defendants are brought to justice and denied the illicit proceeds of their crimes,' said US Department of Justice Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan.

The bulk of the money to be shared from Guernsey - $12.77m - was generated by the island's co-operation in connection with the prosecution of Raymond Bitar and his associates by the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. In April 2013 Bitar pleaded guilty to unlawful internet gambling and conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud. He lied to customers of his Full Tilt Poker operation about the security of funds it held which he falsely promised would be protected in segregated accounts. The funds were used elsewhere, including to pay him and cover the company's operating expenses. When Full Tilt Poker collapsed it was unable to pay players approximately $350 that it owed them.

The remaining funds stem from the prosecution by the same body of Paul Hindelang and his associates. Hindelang was a large scale importer of Colombian marijuana into the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.

A statement from the States is expected today.