The United States Department of Justice has signed an agreement with Groupe Bernard Tapie taking the latter one step closer to completing its acquisition of Full Tilt Poker. Under the terms of the deal, Full Tilt will forfeit all of its assets to the US government, who will return them to Groupe Bernard Tapie for $80 million.
The government will dismiss the civil forfeiture claims against Full Tilt and its operating companies, removing liability for the poker room's shareholders. However, the Department of Justice will pursue proceedings against Howard Lederer, Ray Bitar and other individuals named in the Black Friday indictments.
US account holders will have to submit requests to the US government for the repayment of funds, fuelling concerns over a potential tax hit with cash outs. Groupe Bernard Tapie will reimburse all non-US players.
The agreement allows for other investors to become shareholders; however, current Full Tilt management will not hold stakes in the newly restructured company.
The deal is subject to approval by a two-thirds vote by Full Tilt's shareholders.
"We have a letter agreement with the Department of Justice that would allow GBT to purchase the Full Tilt assets from the United States," Behnam Dayanim, a lawyer associated with Groupe Bernard Tapie, told PokerUpdate. "This is the first step in a process that will require agreement of the Full Tilt companies to the forfeiture of those assets and execution of a definitive agreement with the Department."
The US Department of Justice said: "We have no comment and are not confirming or denying an agreement."
PokerStrategy has published the following statement from Full Tilt:
"Full Tilt Poker is pleased that the terms of the agreement between Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) and the Department of Justice have been finalized, and that the agreement provides for GBT to repay or make whole players outside of the United States and for the Department of Justice to permit United States players to request compensation out of the forfeited funds. Since Black Friday, repaying customers has been FTP’s number one priority.
Ray Bitar, co-Founder of Full Tilt Poker stated: "I am extremely pleased with the efforts of the Department of Justice, and the Groupe Bernard Tapie corporation, and appreciate their continued dedication in working towards a mutually beneficial agreement that will facilitate repayment of the players."
Now that the agreement with DOJ has been reached, GBT and Full Tilt Poker will now turn to memorializing the final terms of their agreement, to bring this matter to a complete resolution as soon as possible.
Full Tilt Poker would like to thank all its customers for their continued patience since Black Friday and during this negotiation process."