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Poker den operator jailed

Published Monday, 09 June 2014

A Cheshunt man has become the first person in the United Kingdom to be jailed for running a money laundering scheme in connection with the running of an illegal poker den after he was prosecuted by Enfield Council. He is also subject to confiscation of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Ahmet Melin, 33, of Cheshunt, Herts, denied, but was found guilty of five offences of money laundering under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 on Thursday April 10. He was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for each offence to run concurrently at Wood Green Crown Court last week (Tuesday 3 June). 

The trial judge, told Melin that a prison sentence was “inevitable” pointing out that the money he made was not going back into the business and he was paying it into his own account and that modest people from modest backgrounds used the club as well as professional gamblers.

He added that Melin had a long standing involvement with gambling clubs, that the operation was run illegally from the start with poker as its main function, that Melin was constantly pushing the boundaries through the use of false accounts, minutes and minimising his own role and that Melin regarded it as the local authority’s job to stop him from breaking the law.

Melin was prosecuted after Enfield Council enforcement officers found the Big Bluff Private Members Club in Green Lanes; Palmers Green was actually a front for an illegal poker club and not a non-profit making private members club in line with its Club Gaming Permit.

Commercial poker operations require a casino licence and Enfield Council’s policy is not to issue casino licences to properties in the borough.

Because Big Bluff was operating large poker tournaments and all the profits from them were illegal they amounted to criminal assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act because Melin was withdrawing money from the club for his own purposes.

The club was raided in September 2012 by Enfield Council’s Licensing Enforcement and Trading Standards Teams, the Gambling Commission and the Metropolitan Police. The Big Bluff Private Members Club has since stopped operating.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Chris Bond, said: “Enfield Council took swift and decisive action when we found out the Big Bluff Private Members Club was a front for an illegal poker den.

“I’m pleased Enfield Council’s Licensing Enforcement, Trading Standards and Legal teams worked effectively together to bring this prosecution which sends out the very clear message that we do not tolerate any illegal gambling in this borough.

”We will not tolerate any illegal behaviour in this borough and we will continue to take firm action against anyone stupid enough to break the law in Enfield.”

Nick Tofiluk, the Commission’s Director of Regulatory Operations said: "This is an excellent example of how a local authority with Gambling Commission support is dealing with illegal gambling in whatever guise it is presented. The message is simple - if you offer poker in a club and are breaking the law, action can and will be taken."

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