It started with the Absolute Poker super-user scandal, and continues with the UltimateBet cheating scandal. There are many similarities between these two cases that involve two online poker sites, but the one overriding tie that binds is their joint ownership. Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG is a Canadian company that was established to purchase the two companies and bring them together under one roof.
The investigation into the Absolute Poker scandal was reportedly concluded, though none of the alleged perpetrators have been prosecuted to the best of our knowledge. And the inquiry into the UltimateBet cheating operation has been ongoing since January 2008, which has since branched into several concurrent investigations, remains unresolved.
In early August of 2008, I had the opportunity to speak with Paul Leggett, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Tokwiro Enterprises. Though no questions were off limits, there were many topics he was unable to address in any detail because of ongoing legal proceedings. However, Mr. Leggett was surprisingly frank in many of his responses during the interview. The questions and answers, in their entirety, were first published in a three-part article on PokerWorks.com, though excerpts will be printed here.
Leggett first explained that Tokwiro purchased Absolute Poker and Ultimate Poker in October 2006, where they were held in trust for several months while Tokwiro solidified its operations and became fully functional by early 2007. One of my initial questions regarded due diligence where software glitches and former employee improprieties were discovered.
Leggett said, "There definitely was due diligence done at the time of purchase. The company did rely on a lot of the public information that was available to us and the audits that had been done previously ... We reviewed a lot of the public financial statements that were done when the company was actually traded on the London Exchange, so we did rely pretty heavily at the time on those public statements and filings. We reviewed them and the software, and we met with Excapsa management to go over all the details of the business, but this is a very large platform that we purchased. Unfortunately, during this due diligence process, we simply did not discover the code [in the software that was used by the cheaters] that was put on there ... We didn't discover it, unfortunately, until this investigation."
I asked if there was a consideration of legal action against the prior owners, to which he could only reply, "We are pursuing many, many legal actions right now. I'm confident that a lot of it will become public in the very near future ... I expect there to be some public information about that very soon."
When pressed about the possible involvement of former owner and 1994 WSOP champion Russ Hamilton, Leggett was again limited in his ability to answer. He said, "I cannot confirm or deny anybody that is involved or not involved at this point ... There's nothing that would give me more personal satisfaction that to do that, but unfortunately, our situation is very complicated. But I have a ton of evidence-IP addresses, withdrawal information, transfer information, addresses, names-and I'm confident in my own mind that I know exactly what occurred.
"But we're involved in complicated legal action, and our litigators have forbidden me to say anything about who is or is not involved at this point. I'm very hopeful that we're going to be receiving a very large sum of money as a result of our legal actions, something that represents some kind of justice in this whole thing, and I'm very hopeful and committed to doing everything I can to make sure that enough information comes out about this, whether it be through our legal actions or whatever, to make sure that the poker community and the public at large are satisfied at the end of this."
More in Part 2...
Jennifer Newell is a compulsive writer. In addition to Poker Player Newspaper, she writes for numerous publications and blogs at Pokerati.com as California Jen. In her little bit of spare time, she plays poker, too. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.