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Poker News | World Poker News

Full Tilt Poker's First Account Unfrozen

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One Irish account belonging to Full Tilt Poker and Raymond Bitar, Full Tilt Co-founder, has been unfrozen by the United States Department of Justice. Even though this unfrozen account frees up more than a third of the US$100 Million to $150 million still owed to US players, a Full Tilt Poker (FTP) source has informed eGaming Review that US players would not immediately be paid despite this development and there is no date confirmed for when it might happen.

According to information obtained by eGaming Review, the Bank of Ireland account that was unfrozen is one of nine FTP accounts that were frozen in Ireland.  A total of 76 bank accounts were named in the Black Friday April 15th indictments as belonging to one of the three indicted poker sites.

Further information in the last three weeks leans towards representatives of Bitar in Ireland seeking up to $150 Million from potential investors outside the financial services sector in order to return funds to US players. FTP is asking investors for money in return for a stake in the company; though the attempts are ongoing it appears they have so far been unsuccessful.

According to reports at eGaming Review, it is their understanding that FTP is engaged in discussions with the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York with the possibility of unfreezing more accounts across Europe.

Bradley Franzen's guilty plea was commented on by a Full Tilt source on the DoJ's statement in a press release relating to charges to the Black Friday indictments where Franzen admitted being approached to help Full Tilt deal with a $60 Million shortfall early in 2011, that according to the DoJ was created, “by its inability to find a payment processor to process transactions involving US player accounts. The company was facing the shortfall because it continued to credit funds to player accounts despite being unable to actually debit (or “pull”) funds from customers.”

This was a result of players' poker balances being credited with money held in bank accounts that were seized by authorities before FTP had even been aware of the seizures according to the Full Tilt source. “Because of the broad-sweeping nature of the Black Friday seizures, you had a seizure combined with a backlog and this has resulted in millions which all of a sudden became owed.”

“Normally Full Tilt would cover that and take that loss, but because all their banks got shut down there was no way of doing that until recently when the government agreed to unfreeze the [Bank of Ireland] account,” the Full Tilt source said.

“Banks that weren’t even subject to restraining orders started shutting down because they thought ‘we’ve got to be careful, the Americans are after us.’ We actually had to ask the prosecutors to call these banks and tell them they weren’t interested in them,” the source also explained that Full Tilt’s inability to unfreeze funds is not limited to those accounts seized in the 15 April indictments.

The source added that repayment of US players was a complex issue; one which was hoped would be resolved sooner rather than later. “There are a lot of factors involved. Some of that is the $60 million backlog referenced in the Franzen case, some is the bank accounts that voluntarily decided to restrain funds, and some is the status of negotiations with the Southern District.

“All of those issues together contribute to creating an impediment to paying players back, an impediment which wouldn’t be there if each of those things didn’t exist,” the source said.

*Thanks to eGaming Review's exclusive report for information in this article.*

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