Everleaf Poker hasn’t been in business for over a year now, but there’s still some punishment to be dealt out to those in charge of the failed online gambling firm. And now, one of the directors of Everleaf Gaming has been charged with misappropriating players’ funds in a Maltese court.
Michael Zwi Oros appeared before Magistrate Doreen Clarke this week, having been arrested after a thorough investigation by the Malta Lotteries and Gaming Authority (LGA) as well as the Malta Police Economic Crimes Unit. Oros was released after his hearing, with bail having been set at â‚¬10,000 ($12,800). Oros will not be allowed to leave Malta, and is required to check in at a local police station each day to prove his location.
Oros has been charged with misappropriation of players’ funds, as well as failing to pay outstanding gaming taxes and license fees, and other failures in disclosure and notification to the LGA. Investigators are also looking into fellow Everleaf director Jean Pavili, though no charges have been filed against him as of yet.
LGA executive chairman Joseph Cuschieri said that protecting the interests of players was critical to their operations, making the prosecutions of both Oros and Pavili a priority for the regulator.
“Our key objective is to recover the funds owed to the players,” Cuschieri said in a statement. “We are committed to ensure that player funds are protected at all times and to this effect, the LGA will be taking concrete measures to strengthen its player protection mechanisms well beyond the benchmarks in Europe and other jurisdictions.”
Everleaf was once a fairly popular online poker network that marketed several sites to the US market. However, problems began to emerge in 2011, when the company was sent a cease and desist letter from the US Department of Justice in October of that year. That request didn’t change Everleaf’s behavior, but when $27,000 in player funds was seized from a payment processor in February 2012, the company finally decided to exit the United States.
But more issues quickly emerged. Players began to complain that they were not being paid money owed to them by Everleaf. At first, the LGA did not make any serious moves against the company, however, saying that most players had been paid and allowing Everleaf to continue operating their real money games under a Maltese license. Many players challenged those claims, while the LGA maintained that most complaints were actually coming from affiliates.
On July 26, 2013, the LGA made the decision to suspend the gaming licenses held by Everleaf. That move came only after a 16-month investigation, despite the fact that American players had never been able to cash out from Everleaf and other players around the world had suffered long delays in their withdrawal requests for at least a year at that point.
The removal of the license caused the shutdown of Everleaf, which was no longer allowed to register players, take deposits or offer any games to players.
Oros, a 33-year-old from Sweden, denies the charges that he misappropriated â‚¬800,000 ($1.03 million) in player funds.