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    A Rational Opinion on the Alderney Gambling Control Commission AGCC Decision to Revoke Full Tilt Pokers Licences

    Posted by Quad Jacks September 29, 2011

    There has been a lot of speculation on what has happened today, and some emotional impact, so let’s try to discuss this rationally.

    Ok, so you’ve all heard by now that the AGCC has issued a ruling revoking FTP’s licences, right? Well, that’s not quite true.

    The AGCC has issued a ruling, this is true, and 3 of the 4 FTP companies have lost both their licences, and their “Fit and Proper Person” status, but if I had to read between the lines, the AGCC has given FTP as much latitude as it could to deal with potential investors. It is still taking its role as a regulator seriously, and applying the required censure and sanctions against FTP, but is trying to give enough “wiggle room” to enable any possible “White Knight” deal to go through.

    Let me try to explain.

    FTP had 4 licences, 3 covering different bits of the globe, and 1 new licence (we don’t know what the plans were for this, but it has never been used).
    Each licence was held by a different company, one each for Vantage Limited, Filco Limited, Oxalic Limited and Orinic Limited.
    Why they had 4 companies for their licences is a little strange, but probably had something to do with compartmentalising areas of the world in case of legal fallout form the US.

    Vantage ltd, Filco ltd and Oxalic Ltd have all had their licences revoked, and are the 3 previously “active” licences that FTP were using before the suspension. These companies have also lost their “Fit and Proper Person” status, meaning that they can’t even apply for a new licence with these companies without going through a complete new application process.

    Orinic ltd on the other hand has no such issues. It is still a “Fair and Proper Person” and also is still an AGCC Licence holder. If it satisfies a bunch of conditions set out by the AGCC, its licence will be re-instated, and it’ll be able to be fast tracked for other licences to cover the rest of the globe.

    The decision is tough. Pocket Kings is still considered a “Fit and Proper Person” and as such is allowed to work with/for/alongside any AGCC licence holders. This means that the infrastructure behind FTP is still in place, and if they are able to re-capitalise and satisfy the AGCC conditions, FTP can re-open pretty quickly.

    This, in my opinion, is actually good news for former FTP players. The AGCC has met, talked to and seen the money from the “French Connection,” so we can be pretty satisfied that they are at least interested and viable (or are a really good “Trojan horse” created by FTP).

    This ruling has satisfied the AGCC rules, has issued punishment (as much as is allowed), allowed FTP to come back if it can, as well as opening a whole other can of worms for FTP company officers and owners (more later).

    I’m happy with what the AGCC has done. I wish they could have done this quicker, but given that this was an unprecedented case, and they had to pretty much deal with a situation that was never envisioned when the AGCC rules and regulations were written, it’s not a bad result.

    I know that there are people out there who feel that the AGCC ruling has screwed the customers, and that they should have acted sooner. I think I’ve already covered the screwing of the customers, the AGCC has left the door wide open for a new FTP to come back if they can satisfy some rather obvious conditions.

    Now, should the AGCC have acted sooner… Well, maybe.

    The AGCC accepted audited books. That’s pretty standard in the business world.

    The fact that these books contained a load of fabrication, that’s less standard.

    This opens the officers and owners of all the FTP companies up to new criminal charges, forgery/fraud being the major ones. The AGCC was duped, yes, but they had no reason to suspect that these books were forgeries until they had reason to begin a full investigation. While the echeck issue could have opened the door, there really wasn’t enough evidence until Black Friday.

    If these claims of how the book keeping was done at FTP are true, expect lengthy criminal trials for white collar crimes against FTP officers and owners.

    If you have a large company intent on committing fraud, and fudging the books, they’re usually going to get away with it until it all comes crashing down or someone blows the whistle. At that point, it’s usually possible to pick through the remains of the company and see what happened, and why.

    This is the fault of FTP. The AGCC, while seeming to be rubber stamping, have actually done what they were required to do under their legal remit. Whether this is enough is another matter. I can’t see any regulator getting this right, even the US (if they ever actually regulate online poker) would have probably been caught out here. Just look how Enron fudged their books.

    I’d like to see a step change in regulators around the world, employing their own auditors, and requiring that player funds are formally segregated, and verifiable.

    Wish that wasn’t a pipe dream.

    So, what does this “French Connection” (currently thought to be Laurent Tapie) have to do to get FTP up and running after this ruling?

    Well, the words “Show me the Money!” jump to my lips. The first thing they need to do is prove they can find the money to pay out all FTP customers, pay the DoJ a settlement, and still have operating funds to continue offering services.

    Apparently, the AGCC have seen figures they are happy with, and I understand that a meeting is due to take place between the relevant parties and the DoJ on the 30th.

    So if that meeting is a success, what are these conditions that the AGCC have put in place to allow FTP a licence?

    Basically, they have to prove solvency to the Commission’s satisfaction, they need to put in a rigid internal control system for decisions, make the software and hardware available for audit, have a written ownership structure and generally comply with the regulations.

    Not too difficult, and to be honest, what any decent business would do anyway (I would have liked to see a condition to remove certain people in the FTP organisation but that was never going to happen).

    I can’t see a major roadblock to regaining an active licence with the AGCC for FTP once they are able to find the money.

    So, what has changed today?

    Well, for players, not much, getting back FTP funds still relies on getting a “White Knight” investor to add large sums of money, and the door is very much left open for this to happen.

    The AGCC has shown that it will take action in response to breaches of its regulations, while still taking end user customers into consideration.

    FTP company officers and owners have been shown to have falsified legal documents and company accounts. They should probably find decent legal representation in Ireland and Alderney, I have a feeling they might need it.

    Not a bad result really is it?

    QuadJacks.com – September 29, 2011

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