Neteller Funds Seized By DOJ May Be Released Within Next 75 Days

21 March 2007

Newspaper

REUTERS UK

Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:40 AM BST137

LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) – British payment processor NETeller (NLR.L: Quote, Profile , Research) said on Wednesday it expected to announce a plan to distribute funds seized by U.S. prosecutors to its U.S. customers within the next 75 days.

NETeller quit the United States in January, abandoning 65 percent of its business, after authorities there arrested its two founders in a crackdown on online gaming.

A month later, NETeller said U.S. prosecutors had seized funds, stopping U.S. customers from accessing their money.

The firm said on Wednesday it had signed agreements with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (USAO) and consulting group Navigant Consulting Inc to outline terms and a timeline under which it would work towards distributing funds to its U.S. customers.

“Per the agreements, the group anticipates that within the next 75 days it will announce a plan by which the funds will be distributed to U.S. customers,” NETeller said in a statement.

The firm said in February that the amount of funds seized by the USAO or otherwise restricted by third parties did not exceed $55 million.

The legality of Internet gambling in the United States was ambiguous for many years, but it was effectively banned last October when U.S. President George W. Bush signed legislation outlawing gaming financial transactions.

The big UK stock market-listed companies pulled out just ahead of the ban, although some privately owned Web sites such as Bodog.com and Pokerstars continued to take wagers through payment processors.

NETeller requested its shares be suspended in January, after its Canadian founders, Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, were charged with handling billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds.

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