Tom Pelton Cites Blog Funded by Dirty Money

Yesterday I took Baltimore Sun advocacy journalist Tom Pelton to task for another inane post on the Sun’s Bay and Environment blog. Pelton cited the alarmist website Desmog Blog. Well it turns out that DeSmog Blog is funded by dirty money.

The fact that Pelton loves to point out that some skeptics are funded by so-called “dirty” fossil fuel industries makes this irony even more rich. Hat Tip to Paul Chesser and Robert Ferguson.

John Lefebvre, the top financial benefactor of the DeSmog Blog, is facing substantial prison time after pleading guilty to federal money-laundering charges.
The DeSmog Blog is operated by a small group of public relations people who specialize in attempting to discredit respected scientists and policy analysts who disagree with alarmist global warming theory.

Ironically, DeSmog Blog’s favorite tactic is to claim scientists and policy analysts who disagree with alarmist global warming theory are funded by “dirty money.”

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The revelation of the blog’s major source of funding as a convicted money launderer may undermine DeSmog’s attempts to smear the integrity of respected, law-abiding scientists who disagree with them.

Apparently unashamed by their criminal connections, the DeSmog Blog Web site proclaims, “The DeSmogBlog team is especially grateful to our benefactor John Lefebvre. … John has been outspoken, uncompromising, and courageous in challenging those who would muddy the climate change debate, and he has enabled and inspired the same standard on the blog.”

Lefebvre, who pleaded guilty in June 2007, faces up to 20 years in a federal penitentiary.

More Desmog Money Laundering below the fold.

Lefebvre Reportedly Donated “More Than $300,000” To “Start And Operate” DeSmogBlog. “Lefebvre … gave more than $300,000 to help Hoggan establish a website devoted to exposing the links between fossil fuel companies, critics of climate change science and the public relations industry. Hoggan said he became dismayed a few years back that a few public relations firms were helping a small number of skeptics undermine the scientific consensus that humans are changing the climate by burning fossil fuels. He talked to Lefebvre about the need to debunk misinformation about climate change and received a huge donation to start and operate a website called” (Doug Ward, “‘Teddy-Bear Hippie’ With A Big Heart,” Edmonton Journal, 1/20/07)

In 1999, Lefebvre Founded NETeller – An Online Gaming Payment Processing Company – And Built A Fortune Estimated To Be “In The Hundreds Of Millions.” “A lawyer by trade and frustrated musician by passion, John Lefebvre became a founding minority partner in NETeller six years ago. In that speck of time, the company specializing in Web-based money transfers mushroomed from a mere notion to more than $2 billion in market capitalization. … Lefebvre, who was barely getting by on cash borrowed from friends a decade ago, has since built a fortune in the hundreds of millions.” (Tom Maloney, “The Fine Art Of Giving,” University Of Calgary’s OnCampus Magazine, 10/14/05)

Lefebvre’s Business Processed Over $7.3 Billion In 2005 – Mostly From North American Gambling Operations – While Lefebvre Served As A Company Director. “NETeller processed more than $7.3 billion in 2005, mostly from North American gambling transactions, prosecutors said in January. Shares of the company, which have been suspended, have fallen 80 per cent in the last year. … Lefebvre stepped down as a non-executive director in December 2005, according to a filing.” (Kelly Sinoski, “B.C. Man, Partner Forfeit $100m, Face Jail In Multibillion-Dollar Scheme,” The Vancouver Sun, 7/11/07)·

The Company Focused “Almost Solely On Internet Gambling Transactions.” “[Lefebvre said] that Neteller was originally created in 1999 to enable the transfer of money online, but eventually concentrated almost solely on Internet gambling transactions.” (Larry Neumeister, “Neteller Deal To Dodge Criminal Charge In Online Gambling Case,” The Associated Press, 7/18/07)

In January 2007, Lefebvre Was Arrested At His Malibu Home And Charged With Criminal Conspiracy To Transfer Funds For Illegal Gambling Purposes. “Saltspring Island resident John Lefebvre is still languishing in a Los Angeles jail on charges that he conspired to transfer funds to promote illegal Internet gambling, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles said Wednesday. Thom Mrozek said in an interview that Lefebvre, who was arrested and jailed on Monday, has not yet posted the $5 million US bail set by a federal court judge on Tuesday. … Lefebvre was also required to surrender his passport, which will prevent him from returning to Canada pending his next court appearance, which is scheduled for Jan. 26 in New York City. … Lefebvre was apprehended at his Malibu home.” (David Baines, “B.C. Man Remains In L.A. Jail On Charges Tied To Internet Gambling,” The Vancouver Sun, 1/18/07)

In July 2007, Lefebvre Pleaded Guilty To Criminal Conspiracy Charges – Having Faced Up To Twenty Years In Prison Had The Case Gone To Trial. “A University of Calgary alumnus whose online company made him rich pleaded guilty in a U.S. court Tuesday to a conspiracy charge related to the handling of billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds. John Lefebvre, 55, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel during a hearing in Manhattan … Lefebvre pleaded guilty to a wide-ranging conspiracy charge that included transmitting interstate and foreign bets, promoting gambling offences and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business between 1999 and 2007.” (Kelly Cryderman, “Online Gaming Mogul Pleads Guilty,” The Calgary Herald, 7/11/07)

Lefebvre Admitted Knowingly Breaking U.S. Laws In The Course Of Doing Business And Called His Actions “Wrong.” “‘Providing payment services to online gambling businesses serving customers in the United States was wrong,’ Lefebvre, founder and former president of NETeller, admitted to Judge Kevin Castel. … While pleading guilty on Tuesday, Lefebvre admitted that during the time he operated NETeller, he learned that laws in the U.S. prohibited certain fund transfers for the purpose of gambling.” (Kelly Sinoski, “B.C. Man, Partner Forfeit $100m, Face Jail In Multibillion-Dollar Scheme,” The Vancouver Sun, 7/11/07)

Lefebvre And His Business Partner Forfeited An Estimated $100 Million And Each Faces Up To Five Years In Prison. “A Saltspring Island resident and his partner in an electronic money-transfer venture for Internet gambling customers are on the hook for $100 million US. John Lefebvre, 55, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. Federal Court in Manhattan to conspiring to promote illegal gambling two weeks after his partner Stephen Lawrence, 47, pleaded guilty. The two men will forfeit $100 million they took in from the sale of shares in their venture, NETeller, which they co-founded in 1999. Lefebvre also faces a fine of $250,000, and both men face up to five years in jail. They will be sentenced this fall.” (Kelly Sinoski, “B.C. Man, Partner Forfeit $100m, Face Jail In Multibillion-Dollar Scheme,” The Vancouver Sun, 7/11/07)

Lefebvre – Who Remains Free On $5 Million Bail – Employed Hoggan As A Media Spokesman In The Wake Of His Conviction. “Castel granted a request by Lefebvre’s lawyer to allow his client to remain free on $5 million bail and travel to his home on Saltspring Island. Lefebvre couldn’t be reached at his Saltspring Island home Tuesday. James Hoggan, of Vancouver public relations firm James Hoggan and Associates, said Lefebvre is likely to go back to the island later this week. He said Lefebvre wants to get back into his philanthropic work and his music and plans to continue with community development work in Asia and Africa. ‘He’s really looking forward to putting this behind him,’ Hoggan said.” (Kelly Sinoski, “B.C. Man, Partner Forfeit $100m, Face Jail In Multibillion-Dollar Scheme,” The Vancouver Sun, 7/11/07)

In July 2007, NETeller Reached An Agreement With U.S. Authorities, Acknowledging Guilt And Cooperating With Investigators While Being Allowed To Continue Operations In Europe And Asia. “On July 18, [NETeller] reached a resolution with the US authorities allowing it to refocus on the growing markets of Europe and Asia Pacific. … Under the agreement, Neteller and the US attorney’s office in New York signed a ‘deferred prosecution agreement’ in which the firm acknowledged conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and agreed to co-operate with the investigation. In response, prosecutors agreed to drop the charges in 2009 if the company complied with all the terms of the agreement. The company’s shares re-listed on AIM on July 25.” (“Neteller Says Internet Gaming Ban Brings Losses,” Birmingham Post [UK], 8/24/07)

NETeller Forfeited $136 Million And Agreed To Be Monitored For Eighteen Months To Prove It Is No Longer Involved In The U.S. Gambling Industry. “Neteller PLC has agreed to forfeit $136 million and admit wrongdoing for violating U.S. laws against Web-based gambling in a deal to avoid prosecution on a criminal conspiracy charge. … The company also agreed to return $94 million it held in the accounts of U.S. customers. … The deal with prosecutors also requires the company to submit to a monitor for 18 months to ensure the company does not [sic] Internet-based gambling to occur with U.S. customers.” (Larry Neumeister, “Neteller Deal To Dodge Criminal Charge In Online Gambling Case,” The Associated Press, 7/18/07)

Lefebvre Is Scheduled To Be Sentenced On November 1, 2007. “Lefebvre agreed to co-operate with the U.S. government as part of a plea deal. He faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 1.” (Kelly Cryderman, “Online Gaming Mogul Pleads Guilty,” The Calgary Herald, 7/11/07)

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