Friday, November 4, 2011 : Company lawyer says current agreement will resolve all outstanding issues
Behnam Dayanim, a lawyer who represents French businessman Laurent Tapie of the investment group, Groupe Bernard Tapie, told the Wall Street Journal Thursday that his client and the US Department of Justice were close to settling a civil case filed by the Justice Department, clearing the way for the French group to take over Full Tilt Poker.
The report confirms an interview with iGaming France earlier this week in which a GBT spokesman confirmed that negotiations were going well .
Dayanim told the WSJ: "We have an oral agreement that is in the process of being reduced to writing, and expect to resolve all outstanding issues."
The Department of Justice declined to comment, whilst Barry Boss, an attorney for Full Tilt, said, "We have made significant progress towards a settlement but there are still issues to be resolved."
The Justice Department's $3 billion civil suit, a billion of which is targeted on Full Tilt and associated companies, is a major impediment to GBT's acquisition of Full Tilt Poker, an event that could see players being paid and the once-great online poker site resuming business outside the United States.
Full Tilt was disastrously impacted by DoJ actions against e-cash processors and the unsealing of indictments naming its executives, along with those of Pokerstars and Absolute Poker back in April this year.
While PokerStars paid its players despite the debacle, Full Tilt at the time of the crackdown was cash-strapped and unable to pay back the $150 million it held in accounts of its U.S. players. Two months later its licence was pulled by the Alderney jurisdiction, leaving FTP poker players world-wide unable to access their money, which the government says amounts to some $300 million.
The US government's latest amendment to the massive civil suit it has launched against Full Tilt claims that the owners violated the trust of players and defrauded them while taking $444 million in payments for themselves.
Attorneys for the company and the owners have denied it constituted a "Ponzi scheme," as a U.S. attorney accused, although there has been an acknowledgement that the company may have been "mismanaged."
Insiders in the negotiations have apparently confirmed to the Journal that the present agreement is that GBT will pay an amount of money to the Justice Department to resolve the civil dispute, and then pay those players based outside of the U.S. The quantum of such a settlement has not been disclosed yet.
"If the current plans are approved by both parties, U.S. players seeking their funds would likely have to file claims to the Justice Department. The company has said Justice seized players' funds of $115 million from third-party payment processors affiliated with Full Tilt," the Wall Street Journal reports.
And of course Full Tilt shareholders would have to approve the sale of the company and the DoJ deal.
The WSJ observes that the fates of the individuals named in the DoJ criminal indictment is a separate issue in which the outcome remains uncertain.