The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has unlocked one of the frozen accounts of PokerStars. An unknown amount has been released from an account at Hapoalim Bank, Luxembourg, which is associated with Sphene International Limited, one of PokerStars payment processors, and has been mentioned in the USD3 billion complaint forming part of the indictments of Black Friday.
Sphene International Limited was associated with three accounts—one at Hapoalim Bank and the other two at Credit Agricole. The latter have been left untouched by the DoJ so far.
The DoJ has not yet specified how much money it has released, but it has issued a press release stating that PokerStars and the US government have come to an agreement that PokerStars will retain USD 5.5 million in the account and the US government will not object to its use of the rest of the money. According to the release, PokerStars has generated $5.5 million by providing online poker services for real money in the US, and the government says PokerStars has agreed to this.
Earlier this May, rumours began spreading that the DoJ has released funds in one of the frozen accounts of Full Tilt Poker; but later, it turned out that the Bank of Ireland had voluntarily frozen that account.
PokerStars has paid over USD100 million to its players by the middle of May, after which it has paid over $125 million; but Full Tilt Poker has not yet been able to retrieve its funds. Full Tilt Poker’s legal representatives say that the online poker giant is currently engaged in negotiations with potential investors to raise funds required to pay back its players.
Regarding the funds recently released by the DoJ, PokerStars is required to retain $5.5 million in its Hapoalim Bank account till the end of the lawsuit filed against it by the government. The DoJ has not made any more comments regarding any other accounts that are mentioned in its civil suit.
The DoJ has also not mentioned any reason for unlocking the account and turning it over to PokerStars, but it may have done so because PokerStars has been extremely co-operative with it after Black Friday. While Full Tilt Poker has been unable to pay back any of its players, PokerStars went out of its way to make things easier for its US poker customers and permitted them to withdraw their deposits. Besides, PokerStars is still in good order and functioning.