Payment processor Account Services Corporation filed a motion in court on Friday requesting that all of the funds in two bank account be immediately released and returned to the company. In total, Account Services has more than $13 million in funds “frozen” in two separate bank accounts. The funds were seized by the government last month in an attempt to crack down on Internet poker.
The motion states that “Account Services Corporation (ASC), by and through its counsel of record, will move this Court pursuant to Rule 41(g) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure for the release and return of funds totaling approximately $13,000,000.00 held in account number 7986104185 with Wells Fargo Bank in Escondido, California, and funds in excess of $1,000,000.00 held in accounts numbered 353000248 and 353000256 with Union Bank, N.A. in San Diego, California.”
Rule 41(g) states, in part, that “A person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of property or by the deprivation of property may move for the property’s return.”
They contend that the funds seized were part of an unlawful search and seizure for several reasons. For one, the Union Bank funds were seized without a warrant in the Southern District of California. The Wells Fargo funds were seized with a warrant, however, the warrant was filed 12 days after the seizure took place. Also, it cannot be argued that ASC was in violation of UIGEA because the law states that companies have until December 1st of this year to comply with the law.
According to the seizure documents, the warrants were executed pursuant to a 1970 law called the Illegal Gambling Businesses Act (IGBA). The IGBA is supposed to target companies that operate illegal gambling activities (as the name states). However, ASC argues the fact that they are not an illegal gambling operation. In fact, even if they were involved with Internet poker, which they are not, there is no law in either New York, where the papers were filed, or in California, where the funds were seized, against playing poker on the Internet. As such, this law does not pertain to them.
The money actually belonged to the players anyway, not Account Services. As court documents state, “There is no evidence whatsoever that the individual players for whom the seized funds were being held were in any way engaged in financing, managing, supervising, directing, or owning all or part of an illegal gambling business. Accordingly, the players are not in violation of (the IGBA), nor are the funds seized proceeds of an illegal gambling business.”
Account Services has also stated that the company will likely be forced to shut its doors if they are not given access to the funds in question in a timely manner. Court documents state that “ASC will suffer irreparable injury if the property is not returned. The government caused irreparable injury to ASC when it unlawfully seized the funds in ASC’s Wells Fargo and Union Bank accounts. ASC was placed in an untenable position by the government when checks, payable to individual players from whom ASC held money in trust, bounced. Furthermore, as discussed above, ASC is now exposed to demands and threats of civil suit from check cashing businesses that cashed individual players’ checks which subsequently bounced.”
The Poker Players Alliance has also released a statement on the issue. “On behalf of the players whose money was seized by the government, the PPA is pleased that Account Services took this step of filing its motion and contesting the seizure.”
The statement continues, “The PPA will likely seek to get involved in this action to ensure that the voice of U.S. poker players are heard and their freedom to play the skill game of online poker is preserved – without the threat of the government seizing their money.”
The entire statement, along with a complete copy of the motion filed by Account Services, can be found at the PPA website, theppa.org.