Wednesday May 14,2014 : PURPLE LOUNGE – THE SCANDAL THAT WILL NOT GO AWAY (Update)
Players' group lodges complaint with stock exchange and Serious Fraud Office.
With an estimated GBP 650,000 still owed to players of the now collapsed online poker site Purple Lounge the issue continues to escalate following recent actions by directors of parent and former public company Media Corporation – since delisted for not submitting accounts.
Recentpoker.com readers will recall that former directors Jason Kingsley Drummond, Justin Piers Drummond, Nilesh Jagatia and Christopher Simon Gorman handed Media Corp and the crippled Purple Lounge asset to Philip Jackson, who claimed that he had placed the Purple Lounge company in Malta (which had allegedly held all player funds) in liquidation.
It has since been alleged that this is not true, and the Maltese company continues to languish with neither funds, licence or activity.
The Player Claim Group pursuing Media Corp for payment of the Purple Lounge monies they had entrusted to the care of management says that initially Jackson appeared amenable to some sort of arrangement that would satisfy the aggrieved parties, but after one meeting a London lawyer named John Botros was called in and rejected all player claims to be creditors of Media Corp.
It is reported that Jackson subsequently moved on to another gambling company, Boxhill, leaving Botros effectively running the ailing Media Corp.
Although effectively broke, Media Corp reportedly does have some "assets", including a GBP 11.5 million tax loss and two cases of litigation against London solicitor firms.
Media Corp's woes mounted when Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs commenced winding down proceedings on a tax issue last month, and to save the company from liquidation Botros recently proposed a Company Voluntary Arrangement, the process to be managed by Antony Batty and Co LLP as nominee and proposer.
Such arrangements are conditional on the support of 75 percent of creditors, and Botros allegedly accepted the Players Claim Group as bona fide creditors of Media Corp and asked them to support the CVA.
In return, subject to conditions, Botros offered to pay the players 1 percent of their losses, increasing to 8 percent of losses if the company was allowed to continue operating and managed to secure funds from its pending litigation or tax losses.
The players felt there was a better chance of getting their money – or at least part of it – if the company was allowed to go into liquidation, although they did not say as much to Botros. Liquidation would also facilitate a full and independent investigation into how Media Corp was run by former and present directors, the players believed.
After two adjournments the issue went to court on May 8, but it seems that more creditors had appeared, diluting the players' influence, and in any case the players were not allowed to vote for reasons that are not at present clear.
The CVA proposal was narrowly voted in, leaving the players to seek legal relief on the issue, a process that is now underway.
Dissatisfied players are questioning the surprise GBP 2 million in creditor claims that appeared in the proposals submitted by Botros mid-April prior to the CVA hearing; these are alleged to be considerably more than the late 2013 admissions by the company.
The Player Claim Group is still encouraging players who lost money in the Purple Lounge debacle to come forward, because it believes the sums owed to players may be substantially larger than is presently thought.
On Tuesday, the Player Claim Group also confirmed that it has laid a criminal complaint with the Serious Frauds Office regarding the actions of past directors and the manner in which the company stock was allegedly manipulated.
The group's legal counsel has assembled a detailed and comprehensive picture of the issue over the past eight years, supported by documentary and other evidence and details of former directors.
A Players Claim Group spokesman said Tuesday: "We are awaiting a response from the SFO to let us know whether or not they are launching an investigation.
"During the course of events The Players Claim Group and others have uncovered facts around Media Corporation, Purple Lounge and former directors….which are believed to indicate a much wider and deeper fraud. It could take a number of weeks before they decide whether or not to launch a formal and full investigation."