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Processing illegal online-gambling transactions between 2004 and 2006 will cost Optimal Group Inc. $19.2 million, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced Friday. Optimal Group, a Montreal-based firm that operates Optimal Payments Corp., will forfeit the funds and has signed a nonprosecution agreement, the U.S. Attorney's office said. Between 2004 and 2006, Optimal operated FirePay Ltd., an online electronic wallet service, it used to process more than $2 billion of "illegal gambling transactions for United States customers." Optimal Group says it stopped processing these transactions on Oct. 13, 2006, the day the Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 went into effect. Optimal Group, which began cooperating with U.S. investigators more than two years ago (CardLine, 5/16/07), said it received a copy of seizure warrants for accounts held by two of its subsidiaries. One account, held by FirePay, held about $4.2 million, and the other, at Optimal Payments Inc., had about $15 million, the company says. Optimal Group now primarily sells consumer electronics and toys. In February, Optimal Group said United Bank Card Inc., a Hampton, N.J.-based independent sales organization, would buy 5,000 of its merchant accounts for $11 million (CardLine, 2/3). In 2008, Optimal Group sold its card-not-present transaction-processing business, Optimal Payments, to Card One Plus Ltd., a Toronto-based prepaid card and payments-services company, for $7 million (CardLine, 10/9/08).

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