UK’s Neteller to pay $136m gambling penalty

The saga of Neteller, the Isle of Man-based online payment processor, and its tangle with harsh US internet gambling laws have given some hope to the UK’s online gambling industry.

Neteller admitted on Wednesday that it broke US laws and agreed to pay a $136m penalty to settle its part of the US crackdown on internet gambling, reports the FT. But the company also said it hopes to relist shortly on London’s Aim market, after its shares were suspended in January when its co-founders, Steven Lawrence and John Lefebvre were arrested. Both men pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy earlier this month.

The company and the US attorney’s office in New York announced on Wednesday they had signed a “deferred prosecution agreement”.

The company acknowledged conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and agreed to co-operate with the US probe. Prosecutors agreed to drop the charges in 2009 if the company complied with all the terms of the agreement.

The gambling industry had been waiting to see whether the non-US portion of Neteller would survive and the agreement has fuelled hopes that the sector can start to draw a line under a difficult period.

Two listed gambling firms, PartyGaming and 888, have also held talks with the US Department of Justice.

Under Aim rules, the window to resume trading expired on Monday, six months after the shares’ suspension. However, the company said it was in discussions with the junior market’s authorities and hoped to return to trading after finalising its accounts.

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