British Aristocrat Who Advertised Money Laundering Loses $20M Playing Poker

George Cottrell

George Cottrell, a 30-year-old British aristocrat previously convicted of wire fraud in the US, lost $20 million in a high-stakes poker game last week, sources told The Daily Mail.

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

The Maestral Casino is currently hosting the Triton Poker Series, an elite poker festival founded by former junket operator Paul Phua, who has also faced legal issues in the US and elsewhere.

British poker player and businessman Rob Yong, in a now-deleted tweet on X, described the cash games as “wild.”

Despite his significant losses, Cottrell seemed unfazed. “George was enjoying himself and didn’t leave the table until 7am, despite being $20 million down,” a source told The Daily Mail.

Who is George Cottrell?

Cottrell is the son of Fiona Watson, a former model who once dated King Charles, and the grandson of Rupert Watson, the third Baron Manton.

Raised in privilege, Cottrell became a banker and dated reality TV celebrities. He later advised Nigel Farage, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader who campaigned for Brexit.

Cottrell played a crucial role in the Brexit campaign, which succeeded in the June 2016 referendum.

In July 2016, after the Brexit vote, he accompanied Farage to the Republican National Convention to see Donald Trump accept the presidential nomination. However, as he tried to return to the UK, federal authorities arrested him at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

21 Felonies

Cottrell had advertised himself on the dark web as an offshore investment expert capable of laundering money in and out of the US. When two undercover FBI agents posing as drug dealers sought his services, Cottrell agreed to meet them in Las Vegas to discuss the deal.

In his plea agreement, Cottrell admitted he intended to keep the money for himself rather than launder it. Following the Las Vegas meeting, he demanded around $80,000 in bitcoin from the undercover agents to keep quiet about the deal.

In June last year, Montenegrin authorities raided a bar in Tivat with gambling machines and a “cryptomat” for digital currency transactions. Cottrell, through his lawyer, denied any connection to the venue or the crypto industry.

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