by Wendeen H. Eolis
No sooner than Group Bernard Tapie announced its failure to acquire the Full Tilt brand--after months of up and down negotiations with the United States Department of Justice--word spread across the internet of another suitor for the online site, its arch rival Poker Stars.
As previously detailed, first, in Poker Player Newspaper, the credibility and timeliness of Tapie's repayment plan to refund ROW customers became a bone of contention in its negotiations with the DOJ during the past few months.
According to Behn Dayanmim, however, the DOJ did not show its hand--other negotiations in progress--while pushing Tapie to make full repayment of foreign "ROW" player account balances faster than desired by the company. In early April--at the eleventh hour, the DOJ brought down the hammer on Tapie's recalcitrance in ponying up full refunds to all ROW players-- within ninety days of consummation of the acquisition.
Dayanim was plainly annoyed by the DOJ's sudden hard-nosed position on the timing of refunds to players, explaining, "Most former FTP customers would have seen their monies fully refunded almost immediately." On questioning, Dayanim acknowledged "Players with larger balances would likely not have received full repayment for an extended period." Could it have been more than two years? Dayanim said, "Yes."
"The timetable for repayment of ROW funds had been a critical of concern to the DOJ for months," say lawyers familiar with with the wrangling over this point between Tapie and DOJ. "Tapie ultimately showed its colors when push came to shove," according to one lawyer close to multiple protagonists involved in the final weeks of the deal making process.
Since Black Friday, the poker industry has been kept in the dark by the Justice Department, both as to its negotiations with the defendants and with respect to its intentions regarding repayment of American player account balances.
However, knowledgeable insiders say in no uncertain terms that the DOJ is genuinely interested in seeing players refunded all of the monies due to them. They downplay speculation that the DOJ will attempt to dissuade submissions for refunds with threats of future IRS scrutiny on their tax returns.
"The United States Department of Justice has invested significant time in securing a reliable repayment process for players, both in the United States and abroad, " says a partner at one of the law firms representing Black Friday defendants.
Apparently, Tapie was raised by the DOJ, Poker Stars called and Tapie "insta folded"--thus creating a bizarre twist in the locked up FTP customer accounts.
Several former government lawyers familiar with the complicated maneuvers involved suggest that Poker Stars' patient and savvy play has been pure been genius, with the likely net result of FTP players seeing refunds of their monies at FTP coming to them from PokerStars timely, once all of the necessary paperwork is signed and sealed.
This scenario is part of the new anticipated deal which will purportedly reflect settlement of the civil forfeiture actions by the DOJ against Poker Stars.
Predictions come fast and furious these days, but concrete knowledge is harder to come by. One European based lawyer who has represented FTP interests and has proven highly accurate in the past (but speaks only on the condition of anonymity) insists, "DOJ has cautioned the relevant parties against making public statements regarding the terms of the settlements until it gives the green light."
In our interview today, Tapie's most active spokesperson, Counsel Behn Dayanim, emphasized the sincerity of the GBT effort to reach a deal with the DOJ that would have resulted result in GBT's re-launch of the FTP site. The fingerprints of Dayanim, clearly resonate in the GBT company statement.
The DOJ's discussions with the founders of Full Tilt and Poker Stars--criminal defendants who have yet to come forward with a plea--have been kept almost entirely under wraps. The smart money around the Federal Courthouse in Manhattan is still betting that it will take more than big bucks before the case is closed.
Editor’s Note: This article and related research is part of material that is planned for use in connection with other writings of the author. Wendeen H. Eolis, is CEO of Eolis International Group. She can be reached at email@example.com and at the website www.eolis.com you can also find her on facebook and Linkedin.