A co-founder of an Internet gambling company and one of the world's richest people pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal crime and agreed to forfeit $300 million as part of a cooperation deal.
A smiling Anurag Dikshit, of the British colony of Gibraltar, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to charges that he used the Internet to transmit interstate and foreign wagering information.
The 37-year-old is the co-founder of PartyGaming, a Gibraltar online gambling company that offered casino and poker games and catered to a U.S. audience.
Dikshit, a citizen of India, said 85 percent of the company's revenue was derived from U.S. customers.
Dikshit signed a cooperation agreement and prosecutors indicated they may eventually submit a letter to the judge asking for leniency at sentencing.
The charge of violating the federal wire act carries a potential prison term of up to two years in prison.
Dikshit and defense lawyer Mark Pomerantz declined to comment.
Prosecutors said in a release that Dikshit developed a proprietary software platform and directed the company's computer operations from 1998 through October 2006, when he also was PartyGaming principal shareholder.
At sentencing, which is scheduled for Dec. 16, 2010, Dikshit could face up to two years in prison.
Bail was set at $15 million, though Dikshit was not required to post any cash or property.
Judge Jed S. Rakoff questioned what would cause him to return for future court dates.
But prosecutors and Pomerantz agreed that Dikshit had demonstrated his desire to cooperate, in part by already paying $100 million to the U.S. Treasury and pledging to pay another $100 million within three months and the last installment of $100 million by Sept. 30.
"Mr. Dikshit decided to come to the United States to enter the plea under his own volition. He's been interviewed in Europe. We believe Mr. Dikshit is dedicated to following through," Pomerantz said.