[bd78ae6dfc4]Gambling firm founders held[/bd78ae6dfc4]
Tuesday January 16, 2007
The American authorities have swooped on the founding shareholders of NETeller, the company which specialises in money transfers between online gambling sites and players.
Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, both former directors of the firm, were detained in the US yesterday, while travelling separately.
NETeller called for a suspension of trading in its shares as it revealed the shock development this morning.
The online payment group said neither Mr Lawrence nor Mr Lefebvre has any current position with or connection to NETeller, other than as shareholders.
Shares in the Isle of Man-based firm closed at 176p on Monday, valuing it at around £211m. Its shares have plunged by 60% since early September as it became embroiled in the US crackdown on online gaming.
Today it said it "has not received any communication or correspondence from any US authority regarding this or any related matter.
"Pending clarification of the situation the board has sought immediate temporary suspension of NETeller's shares."
Most online gaming companies have pulled out of the US market since new legislation was passed in October barring banks from processing transactions involving internet gambling.
The law came after two executives of internet gaming companies were arrested in the US over the summer, BetonSports' chief executive David Carruthers and Sportingbet's non-executive chairman Peter Dicks.
Mr Lawrence resigned as a non-executive director of NETeller on October 13, having stepped down as non-executive chairman on May 11 last year. Mr Lefebvre resigned as a non-executive director on December 15 2005.
Mr Lawrence holds a 5.91% stake in NETeller through his investment vehicle Corvina and Mr Lefebvre owns 5.54% of the company through Eagle Medallion Fortress.
NETeller has more than 3 million customers in 160 countries and processes more than $7bn (£3.55bn) in transactions a year.
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