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Poker News | Gambling and the Law

Rennick Refuses Compliance with US Authorities

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When Douglas Rennick and his Canadian company, Account Services, were targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice in August of 2009 and charged with several felonies pertaining to processing funds for online poker sites, the case seemed to stall. No information was released pertaining to the indictment or the potential extradition of Rennick to the United States to face charges. But information finally came to light that Rennick refused to comply with the subpoenas and is not in contempt of court. What started as the Department of Justice seizing online poker funds has turned into a drawn-out battle with no end in sight.

It was in June of 2009 that online poker sites found themselves in a bind when the Department of Justice seized more than $30 million in funds that were in the transfer process to and from customers. Banks were forced to comply with the seizures that were issued by the Southern District Court of New York that were accompanied by charges of “money laundering transactions and illegal gambling offenses.” Though companies like PokerStars and Full Tilt immediately reimbursed customers for payments held by the U.S. government, payment processor companies that facilitated such transfers were in a tough situation. One such company, Account Services, filed a motion in court to request the return of $13 million, but the U.S. District Judge denied the petition.

Account Services soon found itself in a more dire situation, as its proprietor Douglas Rennick was indicted by the Department of Justice. The Canadian who owned bank accounts for several companies - KJB Financial Corporation, Check Payment Financial, and Account Services - was indicted on felony charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, conspiracy to engage in money laundering, and conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business, all of which could garner up to 55 years in prison and $1.75 million in fines for guilty verdicts. The Manhattan federal court case also requested that Rennick forfeit $565,908,288 in funds said to have been obtained through the alleged illegal activities.

On Monday, February 1, the Wall Street Journal reported that Rennick had been refusing to comply with the subpoena and was found in contempt by the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Rennick’s argument was that compliance with the subpoena would violate his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination, based on the fact that Rennick is the sole shareholder in Account Services and KJB, but that notion was rejected by the court.

The federal appeals court order read, in part: “Although the long-established ‘collective entity rule’ prevents corporations from availing themselves of the Fifth Amendment privilege, the companies content that the Supreme Court’s decision in Braswell v. United States compels us to carve out an exception for one-person corporations. We disagree and affirm the district court’s contempt order.”

Thus, Rennick is officially in contempt of court. Rennick has been silent on the issue, as has anyone and any company connected with the 2009 funds seizures.

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