Friday, June 14, 2024

Brit Aristocrat Who Advertised Money Laundering ‘Drops $20M Playing Poker’

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Posted on: May 20, 2024, 06:37h. 

Last updated on: May 20, 2024, 06:43h.

A British aristocrat who was once convicted of wire fraud in the US lost $20 million in a high-stakes cash game last week, according to sources who spoke to The Daily Mail.

George Cottrell, Triton Poker, money laundering, Maestral Casino ,Budva, Montenegro
George Cottrell, above, served time in a federal prison in 2016 after offering money-laundering services on the dark web and then attempting to blackmail two FBI agents posing as drug dealers. (Image: The Telegraph)

George Cottrell, 30, was reportedly playing in a private game at the Maestral Casino in Budva, Montenegro, which involved “Chinese billionaires, Hollywood celebrities, and some of the world’s best high roller poker stars,” according to the Mail.

The Maestral Casino is currently hosting the Triton Poker Series, a festival for elite players established by former junket operator Paul Phua, who has also had his fair share of legal troubles in the US and elsewhere.

British poker player and businessman Rob Yong, who was in town to play the Triton events, wrote in a now-deleted tweet on X that the cash games were “wild.”

“The big game way too big 4 me here, $200k + just to see the flop,” Yong marveled.

The Daily Mail source claimed Cottrell did not appear to be phased by his eyewatering losses.

“Despite George losing so much money, he appeared to be enjoying himself and didn’t step away from the table until 7am. By that point he was $20 million down,” the source claimed.

Who is George Cottrell?

Cottrell’s mother is Fiona Watson, a former model who once dated King Charles. She is the daughter of Rupert Watson, the third Baron Manton.

Born into a life of privilege, Cottrell became a banker and dated reality TV show celebrities. Later, he was an advisor to Nigel Farage, who led the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and campaigned for the UK to leave the European Union.

Cottrell played a key role in the Brexit campaign, which achieved its goal following the EU referendum of June 2016.

Little did Cottrell know at the time, but the drug dealers he had attempted to blackmail in Las Vegas two years earlier were undercover FBI agents.

Flushed with the success of the referendum, a month later he accompanied Farage to the Republican National Convention to watch Donald Trump accept the party’s presidential nomination.

As Cottrell attempted to return to the UK, he was arrested by federal authorities at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

21 Felonies

Cottrell had been advertising himself on the dark web as an offshore investment expert who could launder money in and out of the US. When two FBI agents posing as drug dealers reached out for his services, Cottrell agreed to meet them in Las Vegas to flesh out a deal.

He later admitted in his plea agreement that his plan was to keep the money for himself rather than launder it. Shortly after the Las Vegas meeting, he demanded around $80,000 in bitcoin from the undercover agents in return for keeping quiet about the deal.

Cottrell was initially charged with 21 felonies, including conspiracy to commit money laundering, wire fraud, blackmail, and extortion. He eventually agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and was released after serving eight months in prison.

In June last year, Montenegrin authorities raided a bar in the coastal town of Tivat that hosted gambling machines and a “cryptomat,” used for buying and trading digital currencies. Cottrell has denied having a connection to the venue or the crypto industry via his lawyer.

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