Poker Pros Ivey, Lindgren, Benyamine and Flack Owe Full Tilt Millions
$18 Million in Total Owed to Site by Pros, May Derail Tapie Takeover of Site
A group of poker players owe Full Tilt Poker about $18 million collectively, a person familiar with the situation told Card Player.
Earlier on Thursday, PokerStrategy.com reported that Behnam Dayanim, an attorney for the French investment group seeking to purchase the company, said that money owed from Phil Ivey, Layne Flack, David Benyamine, Erick Lindgren, Barry Greenstein, Mike Matusow and others could create “a serious obstacle to completion of the deal.”
Dayanim added: “This isn’t the only issue with the takeover, and the deal won’t end on any one issue — but this is a substantial item.”
According to Card Player’s source, Ivey and Lindgren both owe $4 million to the site, while Benyamine and Flack owe $2 million apiece. Matusow and Greenstein owe less.
Both Benyamine and Flack have been in debt to the site since 2007, according to the source.
Card Player was told that the debts amounting to about $18 million are on the books, and that Groupe Bernard Tapie has known about it for months.
The source said that legal action from Groupe Bernard Tapie could be effective, and that the players could be put on payment plans if Full Tilt’s sale is finalized.
Groupe Bernard Tapie is seeking to buy Full Tilt for $80 million as part of its agreement with the Department of Justice.
Retrieving money from some of the players will be “exceedingly difficult,” the source said.
The money lent to players was in the form of tournament buy-ins, and most likely direct transfers to their Full Tilt accounts for cash game play, according to the source.
Card Player reached out to Lindgren and Matusow, but was unsuccessful. Greenstein posted a response on Two Plus Two.
In his response, Greenstein admitted to borrowing $400,000 to “play on Full Tilt a few years ago, before PokerStars had high stakes games.” Greenstein is a PokerStars sponsored pro.
Greenstein said he was contacted by Groupe Bernard Tapie about repayment, but he has concerns about if the money would go toward paying back U.S. players who are owed a combined $150 million.
Groupe Bernard Tapie’s deal with the DOJ would reportedly facilitate paying back non-U.S. players, but would leave the alleged American victims to deal with the government for compensation.
Card Player contacted the DOJ on Wednesday, but it declined to expound on its statement in late September. The DOJ called victim compensation “possible.”
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