The Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ), Costa Rica’s version of the FBI, has raided six business locations and private residences connected to Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet and PokerStars. ‘PokerStars Steve’ posted a message on TwoPlusTwo confirming that the OIJ was on their premises, and that employees had been temporarily sent home. A followup message noted that the OIJ had departed, the employees had been recalled and business was returning to normal.
Speculation is that PokerStars was collateral damage in the wake of AP/UB’s decision to lay off 90% of its CR staff, allegedly without providing the appropriate legally required compensation. A source told the Tao of Poker’s ‘Pauly’ that the raids were sparked after several UB employees had contacted their local labor ministries to complain. A video released by Teletica shows three OIJ members with guns drawn battering down the door of a residence that reportedly belongs to the mother of Olman Rimola. Rimola is the erstwhile head of IDS (Cereus’ customer service operation) whose testy email exchange with UB’s Paul Leggett made headlines a couple days ago. The homes of AP/UB principals Scott Tom and Brent Beckley were apparently also raided, but neither men is believed to be in custody.
PPN Poker’s Chuck Kidd told Quadjacks that while US personnel (FBI/Interpol) were reportedly accompanying the OIJ during the raids, it had been suggested they were there only as observers as they lack the jurisdiction to enter the buildings. But AJ Grant, Kidd’s head of security and a former OIJ member, claims the FBI would be the ones pressing the OIJ to act, and that the OIJ was essentially being used as the public face of these raids and the employee protection angle used as a pretext (listen to his discussion in full here). Computers were seized and access to company servers was granted during the raids, meaning the US feds likely have a whole new bunch of threads on which to tug.
A TwoPlusTwo member named ‘lastchances’ posted a message (read it here) claiming that “a group of investors” made an offer to purchase AP/UB’s non-US business, but that AP management scuttled the deal. The post also alleges that AP has $16m in free funds that it will use to pay off non-US players, but “management has no intention to pay the US players” and intends to put the blame for failing to do so on the DoJ. CalvinAyre.com stresses that there is no corroboration for these statements.
CalvinAyre.com has been informed that a significant number of employees were also being laid off at BetUS and Sportsbook.com. While neither company was named in the Black Friday indictments, their American owners may have become a little antsy over retaining a significant presence in Costa Rica now that the FBI is turning up the heat. BetUS just announced that they will no longer accept any new US players, echoing similar (if disingenuous) statements made by Sportsbook.com.