After a new round of action in the courts, the U.S. Government is now the rightful owner of the player e-mail lists and software for Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet. With that ownership, the Federal Government can now proceed to sell those assets in an effort to pay for the fines imposed on the companies, but nothing has been said about the players affected by the shutdown of the two sites.
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On Tuesday, a claim from the company Avoine-Servico de Consultadoria e Marketing was dismissed in Federal court after a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. In his decision, Judge Kimba Wood accepted the settlement between Preet Bharara (the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York) and Avoine’s counsel Leonard Rodes without disclosing any of the particulars in the case, but listing a litany of points against Avoine. Read our original story.
“The claim of Avoine is hereby dismissed with prejudice,” the filing states, meaning that the company cannot file any new claims to reclaim ownership of Absolute Poker. Avoine is also barred from taking any action against the SDNY, FBI, or U.S. Government in general to claim any attorney’s fees.
In return, the Feds will not pursue any charges against Avoine or another attorney, Thomas Steen Brandi, who is apparently the current leader of the company and herding its former Norwegian firm, Madeira Fjord, through bankruptcy proceedings.
With the settlement of the claim by Avoine, the U.S. Government can move forward with what might have been its plan all along regarding Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet, the liquidation of assets. Absolute and UB allegedly owe the Government tens of millions of dollars in fines. Therefore, the Government would want to put the software and mailing lists on the market, which could contain hundreds of thousands of contacts for a buyer.
However, it isn’t thought that the sale of these two assets alone will come close to raising enough money to take care of players affected by the shutdown of Absolute Poker.
In January 2012, Avoine filed the ownership claim in court, alleging that it was in fact the owners of Absolute Poker, and contested the seizure of the site’s software and player lists. This started a legal battle between the Feds and Avoine.
The Federal Government tried to take the software from Absolute Poker by obtaining another copy of it from the South Korean company Quad Dimensions, which had serviced the Absolute Poker operation from its inception. Looking to sell that software and the e-mail lists, the DOJ was met with opposition from Avoine.
In September of last year, Avoine’s attorneys alleged that the Federal Government had not proven its case against Absolute and, as such, wasn’t entitled to seize the assets of the company. The DOJ responded by detailing the elaborate ruse that the ownership of Absolute Poker went through in order to actually hide who was the company’s true owner. It also noted the rapidly decreasing value of the site’s software, but didn’t mention anything regarding the mailing lists.
Just who would purchase the assets – and what they would do with them – is anyone’s guess. While the DOJ has made the sale of those assets an important point in resolving the fines that were handed down to Absolute Poker and UB, it is doubtful that it would come close to repaying the mountainous bills the company owed. We’ll keep you posted on the latest.
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