When the online poker industry was served a massive blow last April 15th, known as Black Friday, two of the biggest online poker sites in the world didn’t survive, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker. PokerStars was also a target of the sting, but they managed to pull out of it alive. Full Tilt Poker may make a comeback if they can come to an agreement with potential buyer, French firm Groupe Bernard Tapie. And we have one person to thank for all of this. Daniel Tzvetkoff.
Tzvetkoff was arrested in Las Vegas back in 2010 on money laundering and bank fraud. He was facing up to 75 years in prison and was being detained in New York without bond. Sometime thereafter, Tzvetkoff decided to cooperate with police. His allegations led to the Black Friday events and the indictments of 11 individuals associated with the three online poker sites targeted. Since then, Tzvetkoff has been in hiding for obvious reasons, but will have to appear in court next month to testify against Chad Elie and John Campos, two of the 11 indicted on April 15th, 2011.
Almost a year now after Black Friday, 29-year-old Aussie, Tzvetkoff, who was accused of transferring around $1 billion worth of online gambling transactions via his company Intabill, will testify for the prosecution on April 9th against Elie and Campos.
Thirty-one-year-old Elie, Tzvetkoff’s one-time Vegas-based business partner, and Campos, 57-year-old Utah banker, are both charged with bank fraud and money laundering associated with online poker cash transactions with the big three online poker rooms mentioned above. Elie faces up to 85 years in prison, Campos, 35 years.
Tzvetkoff has reportedly handed over more than 90,000 documents to the prosecution including confidential emails. Elie’s lawyers, Dani James and Barry Berke explain their frustration with the prosecution: “For example, although the government had previously produced emails for Daniel Tzvetkoff, one of the government’s main witnesses in this case, the material we recently received revealed that Mr Tzvetkoff had deleted his emails from the Intabill server, which had previously been made available to the defence, and that the Tzvetkoff emails that were included in prior productions were therefore ones that Mr Tzvetkoff had cherry-picked for the government.”
They go on to say, “Only after we pointed this out to the government did we receive a full set of Mr Tzvetkoff’s materials, which included more than 90,000 documents and which we were able to access for the first time only yesterday.”
Many believe that Tzvetkoff, who was worth more than $80 million only a few years ago, is solely responsible for the fall of online poker in the US and the unfortunate fate suffered by Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker/UB.com, and PokerStars and if it weren’t for his testimony, Black Friday would have never happened.