ALDERNEY REVOKES FULL TILT LICENCE


THE ALDERNEY GAMBLING Control Сommission (AGCC) has announced that it has revoked the licences of Vantage Limited.


THE ALDERNEY GAMBLING Control Сommission (AGCC) has announced that it has revoked the licences of Vantage Limited. Filco Limited and Oxalic Limited trading as Full Tilt Poker, with immediate effect (as of September 29). The move follows the Commission's earlier suspension of the licences, on June 29, in reaction to Full Tilt's involvement in a Southern District of New York indictment and its subsequent failure to satisfy the AGCC mat its "activities inside and outside the US were in order".

After an initial adjournment of 54 days at the behest of Full Tilt who didn't want a public hearing so as to attempt a "commercial rescue" of its business, a six day hearing was finally held in London. It emerged that Full Tilt Poker hid fundamentally misled AGCC about its operational integrity by continuously reporting (as liquid funds) balances that had been covertly seized or restrained by US authorities, or that were otherwise not - actually available to the operator. Serious breaches of AGCC regulations include false reporting, unauthorised provision of credit, and failure to report material events.

The AGCC's actions follow news from the US that a Federal prosecutor claimed that the site's board had operated the BUSINESS "as a massive Ponzi scheme against its own players". Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, made the claim as he announced his office was filing legal papers as part of a civil money laundering complaint alleging that Full Tilt Poker had improperly used the funds of online poker players to pay members of its board $440 million since April 2007.

Bharara revealed that the motion would amend the forfeiture and civil money laundering complaint originally filed in April and charge Full Tilt Poker along with board members Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Rafael Furst in addition to Chief Executive Officer Ray Bitar with defrauding customers out of some $300 million after failing to maintain sufficient funds to repay players.

"Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company but a global Ponzi scheme," said Bharara. "Full Tilt insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited."

Bharara claims that the Full Tilt board used player funds to pay itself large amounts of money largely transferred to accounts in Switzerland and other overseas locations. Specifically, the prosecutor maintains that Bitar pocketed $41 million while Lederer got $42 million with Ferguson allegedly paid $87 million in distributions and at least $25 million in cash.

Another owner, described by officials as 'a professional poker player', received at least $40 million in distributions as well as millions of dollars in 'loans' that have only partially been repaid. The government also claims Full Tilt continued to make payments to its owners of up to $10 million dollars per month even after becoming insolvent.

According to prosecutors, Full Tilt Poker began to face cash problems in 2010 following the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) which meant it was unable to collect funds from US-based players.

The amended complaint suggests that the company's own financial records showed that it owed its international player base over $390 million even before the onset of'Black Friday' - over six and a half times the amount actually stored in the company's bank accounts ($59.5 million).

Just prior to going to press, Full Tilt announced that it had received an offer from French investor, Groupe Bernard Tapie, to buy the company. The potential acquisition, which would instigate the settling of some $300 million owed to players, is dependant on Full Tilt's ability to resolve its legal issues.
 
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