FTP Lawyers Dismiss Ponzi Scheme Claim, French Investors Rumored

Chris Ferguson
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson

Two of the lawyers acting on behalf of Full Tilt Poker have summarily dismissed US Attorney Preet Bhahara's suggestion that Full Tilt was a “global Ponzi scheme.”

Ian Imrich, a Los Angeles-based attorney representing Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, released a statement calling the use of the term careless and inflammatory.

“While the government has obviously taken issue with the underlying activities of FTP, under any reasonable interpretation, the worldwide operations of the online cardroom are not a so-called Ponzi scheme,” said Imrich.

“Use of the inflammatory term Ponzi scheme in the post-Madoff era is more than careless and may violate pre-trial publicity rules of professional responsibility.”

Jeff Ifrah, acting attorney for Full Tilt in its hearing with the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, echoed that sentiment in an interview with Reuters UK.

"I disagree strongly with the allegation that FTP operated as a global Ponzi scheme," Ifrah said on Wednesday.

"FTP may have made mistakes, but I have seen no evidence to support the DOJ's characterization of it as a global Ponzi scheme."

The distinction, Imrich says, is that a Ponzi scheme is "an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors."

Full Tilt never came close to offering anything near a Ponzi scheme, Irfah added in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, suggesting it operated more like a “problematic bank.”

"A Ponzi scheme requires an investment vehicle in order to receive a certain rate of high return," Ifrah said. "None of those things happened here."

Ifrah also characterized the primary issue in the case as "mismanagement."

French Investment Group In the Picture?

In the background of the amended complaint released by US Attorney Bhahara on Tuesday is the now-concluded hearing in London between Full Tilt and the AGCC regarding Full Tilt's license suspension.

Ifrah indicated in an email to a member of the 2+2 forums that the primary issue being considered is another 30-day extension for Full Tilt to finalize a deal with a potential new ownership group.

Ifrah followed that up in an interview with eGaming Review by saying a deal with an unnamed party is in the works and a letter of intent is in place that includes provisions for settling any fines with the Department of Justice and repaying all funds to players worldwide.

The letter expires on September 30, however, and is not binding in its entirety.

According to an article on the French media site mediapart.fr, that investment group is rumored to include Laurent Tapie, son of noted French businessman, politician and actor Bernard Tapie.

Bernard Tapie is well known in the business world as a specialist in the recovery of bankrupted companies, having turned around several dozen in the late 80s and doing the same for Adidas in the early 90s.

No official statement has been released by either Full Tilt or the AGCC.

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HowardLedererpresidentialcampaignwagon 2011-09-26 11:09:25

When this is all done and dusted and another invester steps in and takes over and all the decent poker players get their money back (hopefully). I cant see people patting lederer and ferguson on the back asking for autographs as they walk around vegas or any major live poker event again. They were famous now they are in the poker hall of fame for infamy!

dirtyrottenscoundrels 2011-09-26 11:01:25

the great FT HEIST... $400 million DISSAPEARED. Poker players lost all their money. FT gang pay themselves tens of millions in profits with the rest hidden away no doubt locked up in various investments globally. All the while some people argued over FT rigging the cards but no, oh no its bigger than that.. they just took the players money!

Nick 2011-09-22 21:13:26

Also, this whole mess just SCREAMS for some kind of regulation! As Mark Twain once said: " Absolute power breeds absolute corruption." No one was watching the FTP gang, so they figured they were above the law and not accountable to anyone. To anyone who got a piece of that 400 million plus pie: How can you even show your face anymore? How can you all live with yourselves? Of course, you have to have a shred of a conscience or decency to even think about answering those questions. Your fake personas that you all portrayed on your site just make me want to vomit.

Nick 2011-09-22 20:57:33

Obviously, there was mismanagement by the directors lining thier wallets with money that should have been reserved for the players accounts, because it was the PLAYERS money, not thiers! It is a criminal act by any way you slice it. HEY JESUS, PROFESSOR, AND THE REST OF YOU FULL TILT LEECHES, YOU CAN STILL REEDEEM YOURSELVES BY PULLING YOUR MONEY OUT OF YOUR OVERSEAS ACCOUNTS AND GIVE US OUR MONEY BACK. TRY THAT FOR STARTERS! Then maybe we will give a rip about what you or you lawyers have to say. Until then you are all a bunch of selfish scumbags that are only sorry that you got caught. STAND UP AND BE ACCOUNTABLE! PokerStars paid back thier players, so you can't blame anyone else but your own greedy little paws.

Hank 2011-09-22 19:38:46

FTP: "We committed a crime, sure. Just not THAT crime."

henrydaone 2011-09-22 19:36:20

Hey heard the one about Jesus and The Professor - apparently made $400million bucks disappear, now that's magic !