Cash Company Barred From Doing Biz in State Casinos; Global Cash Access Buying Out Founders

A Nevada company that provides cash and credit advances to casinos has been barred from doing business in Arizona because it "defrauded banks" and misleads regulators.

Global Cash Access has about 20 Arizona Indian casinos as clients, providing 5 percent of its total revenues. But, says the Las Vegas Sun, state officials recently told them to take a hike:

The Arizona Department of Gaming recommended Global Cash be barred from doing business in the state because of incidents years ago when, the agency said, Global Cash defrauded banks by miscoding cash advance transactions; and because of a pattern of misleading regulators and of failing to be forthcoming with them.

The article relates how the two founders, Robert Cucinotta and Karim Maskatiya, are going to be paid tens of millions of dollars for the shares they own in an attempt to distance the company from their alleged dirty dealings. The pay is great in the cash biz, obviously -- even if you're facing accusations of skimming money at the expense of banks. The two resigned last year from the company's board of directors a few weeks after Arizona regulators came knocking.

The story gets even juicier -- both men were questioned about the 1982 murder Maskatiya's wife, but lied about it on an Arizona regulatory form, says another Sun story from last week:

"Police detectives questioned both Maskatiya and Cucinotta regarding the murder. Both were read their Miranda rights. The detectives felt that Maskatiya and Cucinotta gave inconsistent statements and did not cooperate with the investigation. They also felt that Maskatiya knew, but would not reveal, the identify of the murderer," the Arizona report said. Yet both men answered 'no' when asked by Arizona regulators if they had ever been questioned by a law enforcement agency, the report said.

The article paints a picture of the company as a very rich bunch of crooks:

The Arizona report said that from 1999 to 2002, Global Cash deliberately miscoded transactions involving Visa by disguising cash transactions as retail purchases, meaning it would pay a lower fee to banks issuing the Visa cards at issue.

Global Cash made $26 million with this scheme, the Arizona report says. It says the company was fined $384,000 by Visa, but otherwise never returned the stolen money.

The Arizona report says that in later years, it attempted to deceive gaming regulators in Michigan in 2004 and in Arizona in 2005 by not disclosing all the required information about the miscoding issue.

The company's slogan, "Transactions That Count," is perfect.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.