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PayPal Cited for Patriot Act Violation

By Daniel Michaels, May 20th 2005
Federal prosecutors in Missouri claim PayPal, the payment transaction service owned by EBay Inc., violated part of the USA Patriot Act by facilitating illegal gambling - and Paypal may have to forfeit money it received from gambling sites and face criminal liability. EBay said Monday in its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri offered a complete settlement of all possible claims and charges covering a purported amount of earnings plus interest that PayPal derived from online gambling merchants from Oct. 26, 2001 to July 31, 2002. EBay says PayPal acted in good faith and believes it didn't violate the Act, adding that PayPal calculated that the amount of its online-gaming earnings was less than what was asserted in the U.S. Attorney's letter. EBay said it would be harmed by negative publicity, costs of litigation and the diversion of management time if the investigation were to lead to a civil or criminal charge. The company also said any finding of a civil or criminal violation, or potentially any settlement, could hurt PayPal's ability to obtain, maintain or renew money transmitter licenses in jurisdictions where such licenses are required, which would materially harm eBay's business.

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