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U.S. Department of Justice Announces Absolute Poker Repayment Plan

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  • Absolute Poker will pay back Black Friday victims in a similar process to that of Full Tilt.

The Department of Justice announced April 10 that Absolute Poker, the third of three online poker companies in a long-time civil forfeiture action settlement following Black Friday, will compensate players in a claims process similar to that of Full Tilt.

The dedicated website for claims in this matter is www.absolutepokerclaims.com. The Absolute Poker Claims Administration website, as authorized by the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section and the United States Attorney for the District of New York, describes the “petition for remission” process and relates to this case: United States v. PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker, et al., 11 Civ. 2564 (LBS).

This claims process will operate for players who were “unable to withdraw funds that they had transferred to Absolute Poker,” the site states.

The calculation formula for repayments will be based on the player’s last known account balance with Absolute Poker. Those who are “Affiliates” will receive funds according to an alternative methodology.

“If the forfeited funds available for distribution equal or exceed the aggregate Account Balances for all eligible Petitioners, each eligible Petitioner with an approved claim will receive the entirety of his or her Account Balance or approved loss amount,” the site explains. “If the aggregate Account Balances for all eligible Petitioners exceed the funds available for distribution, payments shall be made to eligible Petitioners on a pro rata basis.”

The deadline for the petitions for remission is June 9 of this year.

As of April 10, the Garden City Group had emailed notices to potentially eligible victims of Absolute Poker conduct with instructions for filling out the petitions. Here is the eligibility criteria.

Players can file their petitions here or contact the claims administrator here.

Players who had UltimateBet accounts are supposedly also included in the Garden City Group's data, according to various discussions on Twitter.

The claims process the government originally established with Full Tilt will be used for Absolute Poker’s claims process, meaning that the government can use the forfeited funds to compensate victims and to establish a payback plan.

Joon H. Kim, currently the U.S. Acting Attorney for the SDNY, retained the Garden City Group to oversee this process of repayment following the 2011 filing and settlement against Absolute Poker and others in the United States v. PokerStars, et al.

Absolute Poker agreed to forfeit all its assets to the United States in 2012 in order to resolve the action.

According to the alleged operative forfeiture complaints and indictments in the case, Absolute Poker (and others) conspired with payment processors and principals to carry out this offense, and as was the case with Full Tilt the company did not maintain funds to repay its players.

The most recent developments in the case that put Absolute Poker back in the news came in the form of the return to the U.S. of the site's founder, Scott Tom, to face Black Friday-related charges. In February Tom pleaded not guilty to charges from a U.S. court.

On April 15, 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a 52-page indictment against top executives of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, as well as a civil complaint against those companies. Those named in the indictment faced years in prison while the civil complaint sought $3 billion in assets from the sites.

PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker immediately stopped serving U.S. players, with Absolute Poker and its sister site UltimateBet (of the Cereus Network) following suit shortly thereafter.

After Black Friday, Bianca Games, the parent company of Absolute Poker and UltimateBet, cut a significant portion of the pro player roster. This came just after the company filed bankruptcy in May 2011 and went through a restructuring process.

The Full Tilt repayment process, first begun in March 2013, is only now finishing up after the Garden City Group reviewed 53,220 claims from Full Tilt victims during the claims period. The group approved 44,320 claims for payment and has paid out about $118,116,918.

Online Poker Report has reported that 83 percent of the Full Tilt customers have received their lost account balances.

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