After months of watching Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) take steps that would allow the group to purchase the assets of Full Tilt Poker from the U.S. Department of Justice, the DOJ and FTP have now cut Tapie loose by terminating their agreement.
In a statement given to DiamondFlushPoker.com, FTP attorney Barry Boss, of Cozen O’Connor, offered the following statement:
“To address issues reported today in the media and on blogs, Full Tilt Poker confirms that its agreement with Groupe Bernard Tapie has in fact been terminated. Despite this development, Full Tilt Poker is more optimistic than ever that its number one goal will be obtained: Full Tilt players will be repaid. Full Tilt Poker has been in settlement discussions with the US Department of Justice. As such settlement discussions are always confidential, we are unable to comment on any rumors related to the details of those discussions. As soon as we have information to share publicly we will do so.”
Until now, it was widely believed that Full Tilt would voluntary forfeit their assets to the DOJ and that GBT would acquire those assets for a price of $ 80 million. In return, the DOJ would have dismissed the civil charges against the FTP companies and set up a remission fund, utilizing, at a minimum, the $80 million and additional other forfeited funds in the case, to repay USA players that have been without access to their bankrolls for more than a year now. GBT was to have then made full restitution of account balances to “rest of world” (ROW) players.
The precise term used in each document was for GBT to “repay or otherwise make whole”, at their discretion, all ROW players with outstanding balances and then relaunch a new company, under the name “New Full Tilt Poker”. As final documents went back and forth with amendments for all sides to approve, it appears that “repay or otherwise make whole” meant different things to GBT than it did for FTP or DOJ. For the last several weeks, push become shove and a dangerous game of chicken ensued. Ultimatums were made. Bluffs were called. That deal is now dead.
But, for the players, all is not lost, in fact there is likely a silver lining. What was mistakenly reported by multiple poker blogs and forums over the last several weeks was that March 16 was the final date allowed for the “deal” to be finalized. In fact, March 16 did not end negotiations at all, only the exclusivity that permitted GBT to keep control. After that deadline, which was not extended despite multiple requests, came and went, discussions were possible with other potential suitors.
One such suitor is now in the stages of completing a new agreement with FTP and DOJ. This author does indeed know the identity of this potential new buyer, but until such time that an agreement is finalized by all parties, that information cannot be publicly confirmed. This author is, however, able to report that multiple sources have confirmed that any new agreement with this buyer would provide for repayment to players in the U.S.A. and “Rest of World”.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, S.D.N.Y, would not comment on the now widely reported fall of the GBT deal and the execution of a pending new deal.
As far as a statement from Groupe Bernard Tapie,which has been public now for some hours, I also received an advance copy earlier today, but, since I found it to be somewhat disingenuous, I asked Mr. Laurent Tapie, from whom I received the statement, to answer a few questions for me, prior to me publishing that statement. He declined to comment further. GBT’s U.S. attorney, Mr. Behnam Dayanim, was not available to comment in time for this article to go to press.
Therefore, I will be publishing separately, some details that were missing from that statement.
I will also be publishing additional articles in short time giving more details that should be known by the online poker community.