Missing Money & Missing the Point

Clearing up the issue of Full Tilt's 250k Alderney debt.

by , Jul 29, 2011 | 6:32 am

Since Tuesday’s Full Tilt hearing, a surprising amount of misinformation has been swilling around the internet. Surprising, because so few details emerged in the first place. After just 45 minutes, press and public were frogmarched from the building, leaving everyone to pore over a few snippets of legal jargon. Trawling through internet forums and Twitter feeds, I’ve noticed that people seem particularly confused about the £250,000 in unpaid licensing fees owed by Full Tilt.

[CORRECTION: oops, £250,000, as in British pounds ... not $250,000 as originally reported. £250k is roughly equal to US$400k.-dm]

Perhaps I shouldn’t be that shocked that those without direct access to the hearing have picked up misconceptions. The internet has an incredible ability to play Chinese Whispers with even the smallest morsel. Still, you’d expect someone sat a few rows behind me to have the right end of the stick.

Harry Demetriou is fast becoming a folk hero among disgruntled Full Tilt customers. When the Alderney Gambling Control Commission announced that proceedings were to continue in private, he rose to his feet and charged from the room, accusing the panel of protecting a “corrupt” organization. On Wednesday he posted an open letter to the Commission, in which he makes mention of the “250k licence fee that Full Tilt Poker have promised to pay you in the next seven days.”

This is wrong. I was in the room when this topic was raised, so I’ll do my best to clarify. Let’s run through the chain of events as they occurred.

After a long explanation of why he believed that a motion to adjourn should be held in private, Full Tilt lawyer Martin Heslop ceded the floor to a pair of AGCC lawyers. At this point, no mention had been made of the missing money. Speaking slowly into their microphones, Alderney’s legal team took a few moments to express ambivalence towards a private hearing. Just before handing back to the panel, they noted that there were two allegations to be made regarding the suspension of the license. In addition to problems related to Black Friday, there was the small point of a missing $250,000 licensing fee.

The commission were ready to move on, before Heslop interjected, asking if he could make a response. Stoic chairwoman Isabel Picornell leant over to her legal advisor, who responded with a quick nod of approval. In his rebuttal, Heslop offered to explain why the $250,000 had not been paid. He claimed that Full Tilt knew their license was approaching suspension and therefore decided it would be foolish to fork over the cash.

This is the point at which Harry diverges from reality. Heslop closed by adding that Full Tilt would be happy to pay the quarter of a million within seven days, should the license be reinstated. There was no offer to pay in the next week regardless of whether or not Full Tilt were back in business. If they return to Alderney they will need new investment. Demetriou need not be worried that the AGCC are, “going to cause an even greater shortfall in the funds needing to be paid back to the players.”

Some have interpreted the offer as a bribe. A large cash incentive to get the AGCC to arbitrate in their favour. I can’t totally rule this out, but it seems pretty unlikely. Full Tilt’s non-payment is part of why their license was suspended in the first place. There’s no way Full Tilt can ask to be let back into town, but then refuse to pay the upkeep. The AGCC know this. It’s their rule. It would be like trying to bribe the government by offering to pay your taxes.

Rage against Full Tilt to your heart’s content, but don’t expect to get any facts if you don’t have any to start with.


  • Short-Stacked Shamus

    Thanks, Joe. Btw, was it $250K or £250k?  (Have seen both reported.)

  • http://twitter.com/JoeOE18 Joseph Ewens

    I believe it was $, but my notes are failing me and I can’t remember for absolute certain.

  • Barry

    It was £, you are 100% accurate in your recount of the discussion, other than the currency.

    Doesnt suprise me that Harry misreported it, he clearly went into the hearing with no idea, and not wanting to know, what was expected to happen that day

  • http://pokerfuse.com Nick Jones

    “Full Tilt knew their license was approaching suspension and therefore decided it would be foolish to fork over the cash” … “Full Tilt’s non-payment is in part … why their license was suspended in the first place.”

    To me these two are circular in logic. FT didn’t pay because they knew the license was going to be suspended; AGCC suspended the license in part because FT’s didn’t pay. Am I reading this right?

  • http://pokerfuse.com Nick Jones

    “Full Tilt knew their license was approaching suspension and therefore decided it would be foolish to fork over the cash” … “Full Tilt’s non-payment is in part … why their license was suspended in the first place.”

    To me these two are circular in logic. FT didn’t pay because they knew the license was going to be suspended; AGCC suspended the license in part because FT’s didn’t pay. Am I reading this right?

  • http://twitter.com/JoeOE18 Joseph Ewens

    The issue came up quite briefly in the part of the hearing we had access to, but my reading of it was:

    Full Tilt knew their license was about to be suspended for Black Friday reasons and so did not pay.

    That presented the AGCC with a second reason to suspend the license and a second issue which must be resolved before it can be reactivated. Hence why the AGCC lawyer raised it in his rebuttal.

    I wrote, “Full Tilt’s non-payment is in part … why their license was suspended in the first place,” in the section discussing whether the offer of repayment could be seen as a bribe. I was suggesting this was false, because there’s no way for Full Tilt to get their license back without paying. 

    In other words, we have seen that non-payment is grounds for suspension of a license, so if Full Tilt were to be cleared on financial grounds but then chose not to pay, the license would simply be suspended again. (More likely, it wouldn’t be given back in the first place without a commitment to pay, but you get my point.)

    If non-payment was the sole reason for license suspension then it would be circular logic, but it is only an ancillary issue.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeOE18 Joseph Ewens

    The issue came up quite briefly in the part of the hearing we had access to, but my reading of it was:

    Full Tilt knew their license was about to be suspended for Black Friday reasons and so did not pay.

    That presented the AGCC with a second reason to suspend the license and a second issue which must be resolved before it can be reactivated. Hence why the AGCC lawyer raised it in his rebuttal.

    I wrote, “Full Tilt’s non-payment is in part … why their license was suspended in the first place,” in the section discussing whether the offer of repayment could be seen as a bribe. I was suggesting this was false, because there’s no way for Full Tilt to get their license back without paying. 

    In other words, we have seen that non-payment is grounds for suspension of a license, so if Full Tilt were to be cleared on financial grounds but then chose not to pay, the license would simply be suspended again. (More likely, it wouldn’t be given back in the first place without a commitment to pay, but you get my point.)

    If non-payment was the sole reason for license suspension then it would be circular logic, but it is only an ancillary issue.

  • http://pokerfuse.com Nick Jones

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • Guest

    The lawyer actually stated, “He claimed that Full Tilt knew their license was approaching suspension and therefore decided it would be foolish to fork over the cash.”?

    It was my understanding (maybe I dreamed it) that Full Tilt withheld the 250k AFTER they were suspended.

  • Ashleydelaney

    good post joe 100% accurate, i think we were both discussing what actually happened when we were in the cafe’ where others thought it was different to what we were saying, nice to see i had the exact same notes down and memory as you.

    keep up the good work

  • Guest

    “swilling around the internet”
    I suppose “swilling” could be pressed into service here, but perhaps “swirling” was intended.

    “pour over a few snippets”
    pore

  • Harry Demetriou

    Actually The FTP Lawyer said

    ” Can tell you that the position is if you were to accedeto the adjournement….”

  • Harry Demetriou

    I am Harry Demetriou and I taped the whole meeting and he stated basically if they agreed to the adjournment and held the meeting in camera they would pay the 250K.

    ..and that is the EXACT position and I have it on a digital recorder.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vfr-Threethousand/100001411149569 Vfr Threethousand

    FULLTILT is playing mind games with everyone including AGCC.  The fact that AGCC let them delay is outrageous.  Fulltilt does not even have the courage to mention anything on their site to let their players know…how inept.
    Harry Demetriou did the right thing and showed his position, shame that lots of others have not the nuts to do the same.  Too many butt cleaners about for me.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeOE18 Joseph Ewens

    I’d be very interested to hear this recording, Harry. Is there any way you could distribute it?

  • http://twitter.com/JoeOE18 Joseph Ewens

    I’d be very interested to hear this recording, Harry. Is there any way you could distribute it?

  • http://pokerati.com Dan Michalski

    Indeed, me too. We’d be happy to host the file here on Pokerati servers. Send an mp3 (or any other audio file) to me and I can put it up for all to hear.

  • http://pokerati.com Dan Michalski

    Indeed, me too. We’d be happy to host the file here on Pokerati servers. Send an mp3 (or any other audio file) to me and I can put it up for all to hear.

  • Harry Demetriou

    Considering I taped it covertly you could in some ways accuse me of being as guilty as The FTP lawyers as far as lack of transparency is concerned but as the meeting was a public one that the commission stated at the onset would be taped (by them) I dont think I was out of line. However I’m not sure of the legalities of my distributing it publicly as I believe that to covertly tape conversations without all the parties consent could be an offence but they may have given that consent directly/indirectly by attending the meeting and because of comments by The Chair at the start. However someone to my left also taped it despite the Chair specifically stating that no recording devices or cameras or phones could be used.

    Had they not also taped it I may have switched my hand held device off.

    I shall consider making the tape recording public (it isnt great quality but still definitely audible) but have to consider the legal consequences of such an action (technical problems permitting as I have an Sony ICD P520 recorder which is pre Windows 7 Ultimate and need a new driver for my laptop to transfer it).

    Just to clarify two points though…….

    The 250k (GB pounds) Licence fee Heslop stated the decision was made on a commercial basis becasue if the licences were going to be revoked there was no point in paying them.

    After that bit he then went on to say.. (I made a slight mistake above when quoting) further about the 250k

    “Can tell you that the position is this, if you accede to my application then those fees would be paid and paid within 7 days”

    With the application  reference being specifically for an adjournment and that application to be heard in camera.

    And THAT is the bit that is interpreted as being an open bribe. Give us an in camera hearing for the application to adjourn and we will pay.
     and which I have quoted EXACTLY word for word.

  • Harry Demetriou

    All I will say is that I have a far greater understanding than most of the current fiasco concerning FTP and The Alderney Gambling Commission.

    The problem however is that if you do not challenge or question people then they will walk all over you so you need to provoke in order to get a response.

    To put it in simple terms if you patiently wait for something to happen you will die of old age but that if you shake the tree something may well fall out of it.

  • Harry Demetriou

    PS I have NOT misreported ANYTHING and can back the lot up with concrete evidence.

  • Vfr3000

    Legally you have no obligation to not publish. The recording made can help everyone else understand what went on. Transcribe it and and post the text. Also make available the tape to Pokerati so they can verify it if you do not want to make it publically available generally

  • Harry Demetriou

    I am comfortable with the legalities of publishing the recording and have sent a contact form for this site with my email address. If someone replies I shall forward the recording unaltered of the relevant section (s). It will clearly show that there was no reference to paying 250k for a licence being granted but being offered for having the application for an adjournment held in camera.

  • Harry Demetriou

    On a final point I have sent the relevant section of the voice recording to this site but it is THEY who have mis reported. At NO TIME WHATSOEVER has the FTP legal team said pay us the 250k in exchange for their licence.

    As such I fully expect this site to correct the inaccuracies they have presented in their editorials and confirmation that I have NOT mis reported but that indeed they actually have.

    What was ACTUALY said was (my transciption):

    “While I agree that if you were to agree to hear the application
    in camera it should be kept under constant review.”

     

    “Secondly I can tell you that in relation to the non payment,
    the simple non payment of fees the position there officially was we now have
    outstanding over a quarter of a million pounds and of course you have to
    appreciate the respondents took a commercial decision in effect that if your
    licenses are going to be revoked there is little point in spending over a
    quarter of a million pounds for licenses that no longer exist.”

     

    “But I can tell you that um the position is if you were to
    accede to my er application, those fees will be paid and will be paid at
    between three and seven days.”