Ferguson Close To Settling With DOJ, Lawyer Says
Ian Imrich Says Groupe Bernard Tapie Deal on Track to Be Completed Soon
Former Full Tilt Poker principal Chris Ferguson has been having “very positive dialogue” with the Department of Justice, and expects to have his case settled early in 2012, his lawyer, Ian Imrich, told Card Player.
In September, the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York accused Ferguson, along with Howard Lederer, Rafe Furst and CEO Ray Bitar, of defrauding poker players out of $440 million.
In the aftermath of the site’s shutdown, the French investment firm Groupe Bernard Tapie has been working toward acquiring the defunct business for $80 million. The DOJ has yet to confirm negotiations, but reports surfaced in the fall that an agreement has been reached.
According to Imrich, Groupe Bernard Tapie’s deal with the DOJ is moving along.
“Based on what Chris and I are hearing from the parties, the deal should be done within the first half, if not the first quarter, of this year,” Imrich said.
Groupe Bernard Tapie reportedly is seeking to restart the poker site’s non-U.S. business and work toward repaying non-U.S. players. Americans, who are owed about $150 million altogether, would have to seek compensation from the DOJ. At least some of that figure could be covered by what the DOJ has seized from the company over the years.
Imrich responded to last week’s reporting from Subject: Poker, saying it had “numerous erroneous comments and contentions.” The article said that Ferguson is seeking to recover $14.3 million of his money that was used for the company’s “expenses” after Black Friday, and that legal “threats” are being made that could delay the Groupe Bernard Tapie deal.
Imrich said that Ferguson is seeking an accounting request of CEO Bitar, who the DOJ said received at least $41 million from his work with Full Tilt.
According to the DOJ amended civil complaint, Ferguson was allocated about $85 million in distributions, but only about $25 million of the sum was “actually transferred to Ferguson’s personal accounts, with the remaining balance characterized as ‘owed’ to Ferguson.” Subject: Poker reported that Ferguson “funneled” nearly all of it into multiple bank accounts.
Imrich said it is not clear if Bitar owes money to Ferguson.
“While we are not sure –- that’s precisely why an accounting will likely answer things -– it would more likely be money owed to the [Full Tilt] family of companies, or even to poker players themselves, if there have been any irregularities or improprieties in handling funds,” Imrich said.
Ferguson’s request won’t delay or stop Groupe Bernard Tapie from completing its acquisition of Full Tilt, Imrich said.
“Chris has reassured counsel for Tapie and [Full Tilt] as well as the [United States Attorney’s Office] in the [Southern District of New York], that the erroneous Subject: Poker blog –- as well as those articles based upon it — is flat wrong on this score as well as many others,” Imrich said. “In short, Chris’ request has nothing to do with Tapie or the agreement reached with [Full Tilt] and DOJ, which my guy supports.”
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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