NETeller founder pleads guilty to gambling charges

John Lefebvre, the Canadian co-founder of the British online payment processing firm NETeller, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in the United States over the handling of billions of dollars in illegal gambling earnings.

Charges include transmitting interstate and foreign bets, promoting gambling offences and operating an unlicensed financial processing business between 1999 and 2007.

Lefebvre, 55, has followed suit with fellow-founder Stephen Lawrence who entered the same plea just days ago.

In his plea, Lefebvre admitted to promoting online gambling, which was made illegal in the United States following the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Although NETeller did not operate online casinos or poker rooms, they specialised in processing funds for customers who wished to gamble.

"I eventually came to see that promoting payment services to online gambling businesses serving customers in the United States was wrong," Lefebvre said.

Like Lawrence, Lefebvre agreed to help authorities with their investigation as part of the plea. He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on November 1, but following his guilty plea, that sentence is likely to be shorter.

Lefebvre and Lawrence were arrested last January by U.S authorities, leading to NETeller exiting the U.S market and wiping out two-thirds of its business in the process.

The FBI seized $55 million of U.S customer funds in February as part of the investigation, all of which is yet to be redistributed back to its U.S customers. However, according to group president and CEO Ron Martin in a statement last month, that process can now begin.

If that is true, NETeller’s US customers can expect an announcement detailing how and when they will receive their funds very shortly.

Editor, - 2007-07-11 10:28:43

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