December 17, 2010

PartyGaming founder avoids jail

PartyGaming founder Anurag Dikshit has avoided a prison sentence, despite pleading guilty to internet gambling charges under the Federal Wire Act in 2008.

Dikshit had faced a possible maximum of two years in jail, but yesterday was instead sentenced to a year’s probation by a court in New York.

Dikshit was able to avoid jail under the terms of a plea deal agreed with federal prosecutors, who did not seek any jail time after he agreed to forfeit US$300m to US authorities for his role in PartyGaming’s US activities prior to passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in late 2006.

Presiding judge Jed Rakoff challenged prosecutors over the fact that neither of PartyGaming’s other two founders, Ruth Parasol DeLeon and Russell DeLeon, have been charged, despite both being US citizens, while Dikshit is an Indian without American nationality.

The PartyPoker software architect walked away from the company entirely in 2010, after selling two thirds of his 28% stake estimated £188 million in 2009, before selling the remaining shares in 2010. The money is reportedly being used to fund Dikshit’s charitable work in South Asia.

PartyGaming followed Dikshit in settling with US authorities for pre-UIGEA activities in April 2009, agreeing to pay US$105m. Sportingbet followed suit in September of this year, agreeing to pay US$33m (£21m) to US authorities after nearly three years of protracted negotiations with US authorities.

PartyGaming chief Jim Ryan revealed in August that a probity agreement with major shareholders De Leon and Parasol had been included in its merger agreement with Bwin, obligating them to liquidate their position if they could potentially prevent the operator “getting a licence or completing a suitability review” in the US.

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