National Security

Bad Beat

Lasry withdraws from ambassador contention over poker habit

Marc Lasry / AP

Billionaire and major Obama fundraiser Marc Lasry has withdrawn his name for ambassador to France, because of his ties to an alleged Russian mob-run high-stakes poker ring, the New York Post reports:

The feds last week accused Illya Trincher of running the New York arm of the $100 million betting and money-laundering racket with world-renowned Manhattan art dealer Hillel "Helly" Nahmad. […]

Marc Lasry, who runs the $12 billion investment firm Avenue Capital in Midtown, withdrew on Tuesday because of his close friendship with Illya Trincher, 27, who was busted last week with 30 others, including Trincher’s pro-poker-playing father, Vadim, and brother Eugene. […]

Lasry, 53, turned down the post only days after the White House asked the FBI to probe whether he was tied to anyone involved in the criminal enterprise, sources said.

His name surfaced in FBI tapes probing the matter as a person who likes to play in exclusive high-stakes poker games, sources said.

Players can wager up to $2 million in the games, according to the Post.

Former President Bill Clinton congratulated Lasry for his selection as the next ambassador to France last month at a fundraiser for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. Clinton had recommended Lasry for the role, according to a Politico source.

Lasry, the founder of private equity firm Avenue Capital, is no stranger to President Obama or the White House. He raised more than $800,000 for Obama's reelection, hosting Wall Street fundraisers for the president and boasting to friends at one event that attendees would have the chance to ride in the presidential motorcade. One of his children worked at the White House, as well.

But Lasry hedges his bets, too.

His firm ended 2012 with more cash than normal in order to take advantage of a potential market sell-off if Obama could not produce a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

"Hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage of that by buying things on the cheap," Lasry told Bloomberg at the time.