Tony G Takes up the Legal Battle on Behalf of FTP Customers?
Nov. 8, 2011, Posted by Submission
On the 11th of October, Tony G announced that he is looking to sue the former regulator of Full Tilt Poker (FTP), the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC).
During the previous few days, Tony had been Tweeting (now deleted) that he had a big announcement that he was going to be making regarding FTP. Tony then announced, via his Poker Media Site Pokernews.com, that he was "considering legal action against AGCC".
Tony claimed that the AGCC, alongside its auditors had concealed these issues for years.
Ok, so Tony is using his own media site to announce he is considering suing the AGCC, but why, and is this even possible?
The AGCC is part of the legal framework of Alderney, part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, a small island country, and a British Protectorate. It falls under the authority of the Court of Alderney, whose appeals are heard by the Royal Court of Guernsey, and finally by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
For More information on its status, please go here.
I can't see how or where Tony can lodge a suit. The Commission is a legal part of Alderney's infrastructure and law. Any action would need to comply with Alderney law, and Alderney law states that the AGCC isn't liable for player funds.
Tony can lodge a complaint under the AGCC rules, but that's not going to get players paid, and given the advances made with the Tapie deal, why does this make a difference?
Even if Tony was able to find a court with jurisdiction that would consider this case, what is his case? The AGCC explanation for FTP's fraud (and yes it is fraud) by misreporting its accounts is actually in line with most standard regulatory practice.
The Audited Accounts Process with monthly "honour code" updates is used by a large number financial regulators worldwide. They usually have an investigation procedure if there is anything out of the ordinary in the accounts, and at which point they start a costly and time consuming forensic examination of the regulated company.
Tony had an interview with the BBC last month, which was full of misleading statements (and I'm not just wondering about the "world class poker player" comment).
The article quotes Tony as saying "[The commission] had an obligation to those players and people. They are there to protect the young and the vulnerable and in my opinion they have failed to do that."
This statement doesn't seem to have any relation to actual facts. As far as I'm aware, no-one has claimed that the AGCC has failed to stop underage gaming, or offer those who have gambling issues means to stop playing. He may have meant to say that they failed to protect the FTP customers, but no where do I see anything about FTP lying to its regulator, and producing fraudulent accounting information. In fact, Andre Wilsenach (The AGCC's Executive Director) is quoted as saying "The problem is that if an operator wants to deceive you deliberately, he may be able to do so and may well succeed to do so for some time, it's happened before."
It's not only the AGCC that has had issues with this, just think of all the fraud and other scams that have been caught by regulators, years after they began. No-one can be expected to have a 100% success rate at finding these issues before the general public gets hurt; you would need to be psychic to pull it off. All a regulator can do is try to prevent these issues, and ensure that any breaches are dealt with harshly.
I can't see any case to answer for the AGCC, unless Tony and Co. have a smoking gun letter, email or recorded conversation that the AGCC knew it was being lied to.
I kind of doubt they do. I think that Tony is doing this to cover his ass. He promised big movement on the FTP issue, and he had to deliver something. His ego just wouldn't let him do otherwise. So when his original plan fell through (probably by being completely unworkable) he's come up with this to save face. Thing is, does this benefit or hurt anyone else?
Well, the players won't get paid if Tony follows through with this. For one thing, Alderney law states that the AGCC isn't responsible for players funds, and I doubt such a small country has $300 odd million to pay out to players in any case.
Tony does kinda save face, but considering he has been using the FTP issue to self-promote since day one (through media appearances, blogs and using his twitter to leak "New information") this current tack makes him look a bit desperate. I'm not doubting Tony's intentions (apart from the ego boost) are good, but he has yet to follow through with anything that has made a difference. I think he may see himself as the Messiah of Poker, and is crusading for poker players' rights, but I can't see anything beyond the glare of the camera lights, and Tony's ego.
So, in short, I think this whole exercise has been designed to get Tony G more column inches.
DAMN! It seems like I just obliged him, didn't I?
Rob "Hippy80" King is a recreational poker player and businessman with a history of working in Financial Services. He turned his thoughts to writing about online poker after Black Friday, and has spent much of his recent free time delving into Full Tilt Poker and its legal issues. You Can Follow him on Twitter
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