21st of September 2012 Author: Glo Wood
The interview given by Howard Lederer this week on the rise and fall of Full Tilt Poker continues to cause jaws dropping with the statements and info exposed.
Namely, Lederer's relations with his former colleagues and investors, including John Juanda, Phil Ivey and Perry Friedman will surely never be the same after his condemning observations of their role in the debacle; he also claims in the interview that CEO Ray Bitar and finance director Nelson Burtnick took a unilateral operational decision, without consulting the FTP board, to start crediting U.S. customer deposits before Full Tilt Poker received the funds.
He also claims that he and his fellow directors were not aware of an audit report on a false reportage to the company's regulator, the Alderney Gaming Control Commission, when FTP claimed it had cash to hand to cover the $330 million in player deposits, which turned out to be a lie.
He added that some 100,000 people benefited from the unilateral decision, which surfaced only when things got out of hand and CEO Bitar was warned by his financial department that the group would soon run out of cash, and that the beneficiaries weren't aware of the company's financial situation; otherwise, they would have been prepared to delay the payments.
They apparently found out about this only in April 2011, in the eve of Black Friday, but nevertheless made no move to correct the situation. Lederer tries to justify this saying: "I don't think there was any point in having a Board meeting right then. You have to understand first. You don't just go, 'Oh, you didn't tell me about that? You're fired.' That's absurd," and adding that he believed his return to Dublin later that month would give him a better position to handle the issue.
However, with Black Friday hitting on April 15, his plan was never realized, and interestingly enough, Bitar's suitability to lead the company was once again out of the picture.
After Black Friday, things went even worse - the shortfall of money was revealed, and many of the beneficiaries turned their backs on the company, while only a few accepted their responsibilites.
Regarding this, Lederer said: "The problem with that way of thinking is if we figure out who is at fault, how is that going to get anyone paid? How is that going to solve the problem? The only thing that mattered was getting our customers paid. That was our moral responsibility to the poker community."
He also underlined that many investors were reluctant to accept any deals for the company that were unattractive in their eyes, even though a resolution was urgently needed.
Furthermore, addressing the issue with Erick Lindgren, John Juanda, David Oppenheim, Phil Gordon and Phil Ivey, among others, Lederer said they were extremely difficult to work with, and that they were neglecting their responsibilities.
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