Brazzers Parent Company Mansef Inc. Fighting $6.4 Million Forfeiture Suit

ATLANTA — The parent company of Brazzers has filed a motion to dismiss the forfeiture of $6.4 million the U.S. government is seeking after authorities traced numerous transactions involving the Canadian adult company and third-party credit card processors, including those in Israel.

Brazzers, which is owned by Mansef Inc., set up an Atlanta company last year called Premium Services Inc. to facilitate payments from Mansef’s third-party credit card processors into the accounts and to allow the company to remit funds out of two checking accounts to its U.S. vendors, the company said in court papers filed last week.

But federal authorities claim that Premium Services was not registered with the U.S. Department of Treasury nor with the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance as a money-transmitting business. (Court Filing)

The government noted that Premium Services has no known office building nor employees and operates at a mail drop called The Mail Room.

Federal authorities say in the complaint that Premium Services for three months last year received $9.4 million in wire transfers from various sources and that much of the funds originated overseas in countries considered by law enforcement to be at high risk for money-laundering activity, such as Israel.

In exhibits provided by the government, some of those Israel-based processors transacting business with Premium Services included Paygea Ltd., CAL-International, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. and Israel Discount Bank Ltd., whose subsidiary Israel Credit Cards-Cal Ltd. was levied a $13.5 million fine in November by VISA Europe over chargebacks.

U.S. authorities claim that $6.4 million in the two accounts is forfeitable under 18 U.S.C. § 981 (a)(1)(A) as property involved in or traceable to a transaction in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1960, which prohibit’s unlicensed money-transmitting buinesses.

The U.S. Attorneys Office, which is trying the case, was unavailable for comment on Monday due to the President’s Day holiday. But authorities typically rely on the Bank Secrecy Act reports and record-keeping requirements to provide a paper trail, for investigations of financial crimes and illegal activities, including tax evasion, embezzlement and money laundering,

Susan Ross, a Los Angeles litigator who represents Mansef, did not immediately return XBIZ calls on Monday for inquiry.

But in court papers, Mansef and Premium Services claim that the two bank account were at the behest of Mansef.

“Premium is not a money-transmitting business as defined in federal or Georgia state law and so it is not required to be licensed or registered as such,” a motion filed last week said. “There are no allegations, in this or any other forum, that the adult entertainment provided by Mansef is anything other than lawful and legitimate.

“The government bases its entire complaint on the unsupported leap that Premium Services, because it has bank accounts into which it received deposits and from which it made disbursements, is an unlicensed money-transmitting business.”

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