A report in this week’s Sunday Times Online claims the US Department of Justice has ordered the world’s biggest investment banks, accountants and law firms to hand over all e-mails, telephone records and papers connected with internet gaming firms as part of an investigation into illegal online gambling in America.
According to the Sunday Times, HSBC, Dresdner Kleinwort, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank are known to be among the banks that have been issued with subpoenas — official requests for information — as part of a worldwide hunt to build a case against those who benefited from illegal online gambling.
The Department of Justice first issued subpoenas in October; only days after George Bush sounded the death knell for America’s $6 billion (£3.2 billion) internet gambling industry by signing legislation banning all related transactions. But until now the investigation has been kept secret. It is thought that some investors in online gambling companies, including Party Gaming and 888.com, have also been hit with requests for information.
The request could force banks and other advisers or former advisers to the gambling companies to hand over hundreds of thousands of e-mails and files to American investigators. The probe by the Department of Justice will spark outrage in Britain, coming so soon after the extradition of the so-called Nat West Three to America. The subpoenas do not reveal whom the Department of Justice is targeting. But some believe the ultimate goal is to find information incriminating the founders of the online gambling firms.