All Bets Off for Obama's Ambassador to France Pick

Image: All Bets Off for Obama's Ambassador to France Pick Marc Lasry, chairman and chief executive of Avenue Capital Group.

Friday, 26 Apr 2013 12:46 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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A billionaire financier offered the post of Ambassador to France by President Barack Obama has turned it down — allegedly because of ties to a poker ring operated by Russian mobsters.

Marc Lasry, 53, “is a big-time gambler, in golf and poker … a ‘master of the universe’ type,’” a source told The New York Post.

The chief executive officer of Avenue Capital Group, a $12 billion hedge-fund in New York City, pulled out of the running on Tuesday following the disclosure of his “close friendship” with Illya Trincher, 27.

She and 30 others have been accused by federal authorities of helping run a $100 million betting and money-laundering racket with renowned art dealer Helly Nahmad, the Post reported.

Lasry’s name appeared on FBI tapes as a person who plays in high-stakes poker games, sources told the newspaper.

“It’s not that he committed a crime, but it opens a can of worms,” one of the sources said.

The White House had no immediate comment on the gambling allegations, The Post said. Lasry also had no comment.

In a letter to his investors obtained by The New York Times, Lasry said: “I am very grateful to have been considered. I would like to put the speculation to rest and let you know that I will be remaining at Avenue.”

He made no mention of gambling or the alleged ties to the poker ring in question.



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