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Poker News | World Poker News

Interview: Paul Leggett, COO of Tokwiro Enterprises, Part 1

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It has been a long and complicated investigation into the cheating scandal at UltimateBet, which was preceded by the superuser scandal and investigation at Absolute Poker. Both businesses are owned by Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG, which put an enormously bright spotlight on that parent company.

In response to a request to ask questions of someone – anyone – at UltimateBet, I was put in touch with Tokwiro’s Chief Operating Officer, Paul Leggett, who agreed to a phone interview in order to address numerous issues and answer any and all questions within legal boundaries.

This was a much-needed public relations move on the part of Tokwiro. Even as the press releases have become more detailed, more questions have been raised in accordance with the length of time and ever-increasing levels of investigations that have prolonged the process. As the poker community became more restless and impatient, Tokwiro decided to respond with a voice that represented the company and could address many of the issues and rumors on the table.

The interview was a satisfying one, despite Mr. Leggett’s inability or unwillingness to answer certain questions due to the understandable legal limits as to what can be disclosed when litigation is pending. What came from this question and answer session was a better appreciation of the steps that have been and will be taken by Tokwiro to improve security on Absolute Poker and UltimateBet, as well as the current status of the investigation and a bit of insight into the timeline of the release of further information and customer reimbursements. My compliments to Mr. Leggett for his time, candor as it was allowed, and willingness to address all of my questions.

Due to the length of the interview and the desire to print Mr. Leggett’s answers in their totality, this will be a three-part series of articles.

First, I’d like to ask a few background questions. When did Tokwiro Enterprises purchase Absolute Poker and UltimateBet?

Tokwiro purchased the businesses in October of 2006. The companies were held in trust for a few months while Tokwiro opened up operations in early 2007.

Was Tokwiro set up specifically to purchase these companies?

Tokwiro didn’t have any other business; as an entity, it was set up to bring Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet under one business.

There is some question about who sold UB. Did Tokwiro purchase it from Excapsa?

Excapsa Software Services. I’m not 100% on this, but E-World Holdings held the brand, and Excapsa held the software and provided its license.

I’m assuming there was a proper vetting process completed before the purchase of the companies. How was it that the software glitches and former employee improprieties were not discovered until after the sales?

There definitely was due diligence done at the time of purchase. The company did rely on a lot of the public information that was available to us and the audits that had been done previously, but we obviously did our own due diligence at that time. We reviewed a lot of the public financial statements that were done when the company was actually traded on the London Exchange, so we did rely pretty heavily at the time on those public statements and filings. We reviewed them and the software, and we met with Excapsa management to go over all the details of the business, but this is a very large platform that we purchased.

Unfortunately, during this due diligence process, we simply did not discover the code that was put on there, and we were never told that this code existed. We didn’t discover it, unfortunately, until this investigation.

Has there ever been a consideration of action against the prior owners?

We are pursuing many, many legal actions right now. I’m confident that a lot of it will become public in the very near future. We are considering several different possible legal actions, and I expect there to be some public information about that very soon.

When did you join Tokwiro?

I joined Tokwiro at the end of August of 2007.

I know that you have somewhat of a gaming background. What brought you to Tokwiro?

It was some through some colleagues that we had. I was introduced to Joe [Norton] through our colleagues in the gaming industry, and I always had a lot of interest in poker, and I’ve had a lot of gaming experience when it comes to the software side. I worked for Parlay Entertainment out of Ontario, Canada; I was the director of operations and set up our professional services division. After working as the director of operations for four years, I set up the professional services division for that company, and I provided management services, IT services, and online marketing services.

So, Joe had acquired these two businesses [AP and UB], and the companies never really complete merged. There were a lot of operational issues, a lot of inefficiencies, a lot of money being spent in the wrong places, so he brought me on to try to help with things like finalizing the merging of the two acquisitions into one complete energized operation, as well as things like how to put a plan together and actually achieve and improve customer service, technical things like software merging, and things of that nature.

I was helping with those kinds of initiatives, and in the first two months, the AP scandal occurred, and I was involved in helping with the refund analysis. After that, I got involved with the auditors and helping make sure that the company was set up so this could not happen again, that it had all the proper layers of security, and the operation was set up in a way that it was protected.

In January, I was part of the centralizing of management under one person so this type of thing never happened again, and that person was me. I became the temporary COO at that time, and everybody from the operation reported directly to me. Shortly after, we got into this UltimateBet investigation, and around March, I became the permanent COO of this company.

Is Joe Norton still with the company?

Yes, Joe Norton is the CEO and the sole owner of Tokwiro Enterprises.

To be continued in Part 2…

Part 3

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