Company News

Optimal to pay US $19.2 mln over gambling websites

* Forfeiture over Internet gambling websites

* Company will not be criminally prosecuted

NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Canada-based Optimal Group Inc OPMR.O agreed to pay $19.2 million in criminal proceeds from processing payments for illegal Internet gambling websites between 2004 and 2006, U.S. prosecutors said on Friday.

They said Optimal acknowledged that Internet gambling merchants broke U.S. criminal law by offering gambling in the United States.

“Optimal, operating an electronic wallet called Firepay, processed more than $2 billion worth of illegal gambling transactions for United States customers,” a statement by the office of the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan said.

The company said in its own statement earlier on Friday that it would forfeit $19,182,418.82 to the U.S. government. [ID: nWNAB7819]

It said that, under the terms of an agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, the company would not be prosecuted but “a total of $19,182,418.18 will be forfeited to the United States by the Company and its subsidiaries.”

The amount reflected “disgorgement of property involved in and proceeds received from the payment processing services that were provided by the Company’s subsidiaries to Internet gambling merchants in relation to U.S. customers of such merchants.”

U.S. prosecutors said Optimal processed transactions originating from customers in the United States until Oct. 13, 2006, when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law. It disposed of most of its payment processing business and is now principally a toy and consumer electronic company. (Reporting by Grant McCool; editing by Andre Grenon)