Westlaw News

Mastercard exec says card company sought to avoid marijuana legal risk

A Mastercard Inc executive said on Wednesday that the payment network’s decision to prohibit merchants from handling marijuana transactions was motivated by its concerns with legal and reputational risk during his testimony at a bank fraud trial in Manhattan of two men accused of flouting the ban on behalf of an online pot delivery service.

John Verdeschi, a senior vice president at Mastercard, took the stand at the trial of Hamid (Ray) Akhavan, 42, and Ruben Weigand, 38, who allegedly duped banks into handling card purchases from a online cannabis marketplace Eaze Technologies Inc in California. He told a socially distanced jury that it did not matter to Mastercard that marijuana is legal under state law because it remains federally prohibited, and that illegal transactions carry a range of risks.

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