The chances of Bernard Tapie, the owner of Groupe Bernard Tapie, which has decided to purchase Full Tilt Poker, creating a brand new controversy are quite high.
Tapie has a stormy reputation, having been involved in several financial scandals, convicted in a 1990 corruption case, and arrested in 1997 for attempting to fix a match involving his team Olympique Marseille. Since he is a friend of Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, he is a noted public figure in France.
Laurent Tapie, son of Bernard Tapie and managing director of Groupe Bernard Tapie, has signed a deal with Full Tilt Poker, stating that the funds owed to Full Tilt Poker’s players worldwide will be repaid. Revealing the information to reporters over phone, FTP attorney Jeff Ifrah said that Groupe Bernard Tapie have already proved that they are capable of pulling FTP on its feet if FTP settles its civil issues with the Department of Justice (DoJ).
Meanwhile, the US federal government has alleged that FTP was running a global Ponzi scheme, cheating players of millions of dollars while paying its own executives over $440 during the past 4 years. The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has also revoked FTP’s licenses to provide online gaming services.
Groupe Bernard Tapie has a 30 percent share in International Stadiums Poker Tour, which organizes poker tournaments. Last year, the French government legalized online betting and online poker gaming in a bid to boost revenue, a move that led to a mushrooming of online poker sites in France. Laurent Tapie also founded livebetting.com and free-goal.com, both now non-existent.
Laurent Tapie is reported to have stated that his company is capable of refunding Full Tilt Poker players, but a final agreement has not yet been reached with Full Tilt Poker. His father told the French press that ultimately Groupe Bernard Tapie might obtain a 5 – 10 percent share in Full Tilt Poker, suggesting the presence of many more potential investors. Since FTP is worth around $300 million, Groupe Bernard Tapie might get around $30 million worth of it, suggests French daily Les Echos.
Tapie made headlines over a controversy regarding the selling of Adidas, a sportswear company that was once in his control. Even former French finance minister Christine Lagarde was accused of misusing public funds in the matter. Tapie was also in the news for a legal battle with Club Med, the operator of a French resort.