Enforcements agents were after former associates, says owner of Absolute Poker and UBPoker
Friday's raids by Costa Rica enforcement agents of the Organismo de Investigaciones Judiciales were on the offices of a former customer support centre, and were not directly targeted on Blanca Games or its subsidiaries, according to a clarification statement issued by the company Saturday through a number of information services.
"Blanca can confirm that Costa Rican officials visited the office of Innovative Data Solutions (“IDS”), the former customer service centre of Absolute Poker and UB in Costa Rica," the statement informs.
"The Organismo de Investigaciones Judiciales (“OIJ”) took action yesterday to further their investigation of Olman Rimola, the owner of IDS, Scott Tom, who was also recently named in the indictment list issued by the Department of Justice on April 15th, and a third lesser known party, Oldemar Vargas.
"The reported OIJ ‘raids’ of IDS and various associated private residential addresses were in relation to their search for Rimola, Tom and Vargas, and do not involve Blanca or the operations of Absolute Poker or UB," the statement emphasises.
A company spokesperson added that Blanca is keen to correct rumours and speculation circulating in the online poker industry following the events in Costa Rica. Allegations that the enforcement action was connected with the Black Friday indictments in the United States were not true, he said.
"Our understanding is that this is not the case, and that they were driven by local investigations of a separate matter in Costa Rica that involves a concerted effort to locate and apprehend Rimola, Tom and Vargas for questioning in relation to a money laundering investigation.”
The statement notes that Blanca terminated its supplier contract with IDS on suspicion that IDS manager Rimola had misappropriated substantial sums intended for staff severance packages, and the company is currently liaising with the local Department of Labour in a bid to resolve the employee crisis that the misappropriation created by paying the IDS employees direct.
The company reiterated that Absolute Poker and UB continue to operate the non-U.S. facing business around the world, and that the company is engaged in on-going discussions with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s office regarding an agreement that will facilitate the return of funds to U.S. players.
The Blanca statement was to some extent confirmed by allegedly leaked email exchanges between Rimola and Cereus chief executive Paul Leggett which were published over the weekend by the information portal Gambling911.
The tone and content of the exchanges dated late April read like a crime thriller as the two executives argue over $2 750 000 in severance payments, with Rimola apparently pressuring his opposite number with ultimatums and threats.
" I will go to the US Embassy and I will contact FBI agents, who are right now in in Costa Rica, and I will reveal all the information I have of Absolute Poker and UltimateBet operations, including full detail of original shareholders, related companies, lawyers, executives, bank statements, bank wires,corporate structure, processing procedures, all emails and instructions I have received, etc.," Rimola is alleged to have written in one email.
"FBI will be more than glad in to grant me immunity exchanging this information," he adds. "Just a reminder, if anything happens to me, or people close to me, I have prepared 3 sets of this information which are in hands of 3 different lawyers, with instructions to proceed with US Embassy and Costa Rican authorities."
In another email, Rimola threatens: "Next Tuesday, I will close IDS; if you send the money the closing down will be done without any problem. If you do not send the money I will proceed as I mentioned before.
"And if you try to misinform or slander me with my employees, I will proceed too.
"I am very serious this time."
In related news, one of Norway's major newspapers, Dagbladet, carried the story on Madeira Fjord and Absolute Poker on its front page this weekend, reporting that the company was under investigation by the FBI
The article explored "a complicated network" of holding companies and subsidiaries in different countries, claiming that very large sums of money may have been hidden from the Norwegian government and U.S. investigators.
The holding company was reportedly created in 2007 by lawyers and tax experts named by the newspaper, which claimed that the legal experts involved were also directors of the Norwegian company.
However, in March 2011, on suspicions raised by auditors and a number of shareholders, a legal petition for a review was submitted to the Oslo District Court.
The article also reports that an initiative code-named "Out of Dodge" was planned, involving the movement out of Norway of as much as $250 million dollars