Absolute Poker Owners Contest DOJ Asset Seizure and Sale
Attorneys for the US Department of Justice and the core ownership group of the now-defunct online poker site Absolute Poker, the Portuguese holding company Avoine – Servico de Consultadoria e Marketing, continue their legal sparring over DOJ attempts to seize and sell the remaining assets of Absolute Poker.
Attorney Leonard A. Rodes of the New York law firm Trachtenberg, Rodes & Friedberg, and Jason H. Cowley, of the Southern District of New York office of Preet Bharara, traded volleys in a pair of September 4th court briefs connected to the “Black Friday“ case.
Given the sparse AP financial assets seized to date and a nine-digit mountain of claims and potential fines against Absolute Poker, the DOJ has attempted to seize two remaining assets, the AP software platform and its customer database of several million e-mail addresses, in hopes of selling them on the secondary market and recouping money to be used in settling the case.
Rodes, on behalf of the “frat boy” founders of AP whose interests rest inside the Avoine shell entity, alleges that they are the true and real owners of the AP site despite a trail of paperwork stretching back several years that was created to disguise the very same ownership issue.
Post-UIGEA, when AP sought to hide its ownership roots, that supposed ownership trail first led through the Canada-based Tokwiro Enterprises, and then through the Caribbean company Blanca Games. The DOJ has also moved to strike the supposed ownership claims of the Blanca group of corporate entities.
Rodes’ latest filing asserts that the government has failed to prove its case for seizing the AP assets, which also references the ongoing depreciation of both the software platform and mailing lists.
On the flip side, Cowley and the DOJ continue to expose what can be described as the bad-faith tactics of the AP owners in disguising the AP ownership trail, showing that the current claims of the Avoine owners directly contradict previous supposed sale agreements involving the Blanca companies.
Up for consideration is the nature of the relationship between Blanca and Avoine and other AP entities, with the Blanca companies exposed as a false ownership shell, while the Avoine group continues to try to “unclaim” its previous disclaimer of non-involvement with AP matters, including a supposed rescission agreement in which control was transferred back to Avoine.
Rodes has also attempted to introduce the “poker as a skill game” argument behind the unrelated EDNY decision in US v. Dicristina into the Black Friday case, though that case is not, as yet, legally binding on any “Black Friday” matters.
Rodes’ latest brief also verified information that the DOJ has explored alternate channels for obtaining the AP software assets in the event Judge Sand rules in the DOJ’s favor and the AP owners refuse to comply.
Without specifically naming the company (the South Korean software firm Panoratech), Rodes noted that the Korean firm had offered to turn over a copy of the AP software to the DOJ. Rodes also asserted that Panoratech’s copy of the AP platform was a case of “wrongful possession,” though the company had serviced the programming needs of the site for several years in exchange for an ongoing slice of the site’s revenues.
Presiding judge Leonard Sand has yet to rule on the latest motions and memoranda, with no timetable set for a decision on this matter.