In probably the biggest story to hit the poker scene for quite some time, well since Black Friday, Howard Lederer has broken his near two year silence in an exclusive interview with Pokernews.com. Earlier today they finally released parts one and two of that interview and have named it “The Lederer Files”.
We have written down a synopsis of both parts of the interview which stress to over an hour long, which you can also watch in whole.
Part 1 – The Early Days Of Full Tilt!
The first part of the Pokernews interview began with the interviewer Parvis discussing at length the very beginnings of Full Tilt Poker. Lederer claimed that Ray Bitar was brought in due to his close friendship with Chris Ferguson, they were both day traders whilst also very good friends.
As the first segment of the interview carried on, Lederer was asked about all of the original board members at Full Tilt, especially the ones that clearly did not like or agree with Bitar. Two of them were Phil Ivey and Perry Friedman, where Ivey stepped down due to not being able to correctly fulfill his obligations with the site whilst Friedman decided to leave the board after too many disagreements regarding Bitar’s ability at running Full Tilt.
It is worth noting that both of these individuals stepped down before the UIGEA being passed in 2006.
Lederer did admit that John Juanda as well as the aforementioned Perry Friedman was actively anti Bitar, with Friedman even going as far as to calling a vote to have him removed as the CEO of Full Tilt. It was fruitless however and Lederer claimed that there was never any real serious challenge with regards to Bitar’s status or position from the Full Tilt board.
Another Lederer admission was that Bitar was in fact not actually qualified to run Full Tilt, though he stated he wasn’t qualified in the “traditional” sense but made up for that with his passion for the business. The lack of Bitar’s qualifications was one of the major bones of contentions from a selection of Full Tilt owners.
Near the end of the part one, Lederer made an admission that Chris Ferguson had said that he felt that any distributions to the owners of Full Tilt would severely weaken the company as a whole, which in light of what was to occur it seems quite prophetic.
Right at the very end of part one, the topic of the companies move to Dublin was discussed in detail with Lederer claiming to at that point being so out of touch with exactly what was going on within the company, so much so that other members of the team literally had to pull him to one side to let him know what was happening.
Part 2 – Players Money And The UIGEA!
Part two is where the interview performed by Pokernews really starts to get juicy. It began with them talking about the UIGEA, where Lederer claimed that Full Tilt did seek legal advice with regards to the legal issues concerning online poker in the United States. He also divulged that since they didn’t have games that required chance on Full Tilt, they strongly felt that UIGEA could not cover them.
The Board In Agreement!
This assumption was actually agreed upon by all of the owners of Full Tilt, with each of them even having the option to sell up their equities of the company if they didn’t agree to keep it in the United States…none of them decided to take up that offer.
The questioning then switched to the processing of funds at Full Tilt and Lederer originally claimed that he was shown a selection of documents from Bitar that showed the transparency of the processing of funds.
Parvis then questioned Lederer on the statements that had been made regarding Full Tilt investing in banks like Sunfirst bank; initially Lederer was quick to completely refute those claims. He stated that Full Tilt had never invested into the banks in question, yet when the statements were made he suddenly backtracked by saying that he didn’t know and he guesses it could have been a possibility.
The Customers E-Mail!
When Lederer was eventually asked about that infamous email that a customer had sent to Full Tilt questioning whether or not the funds in Full Tilt were held in a trust, Lederer did admit to seeing the email in 2008 and that he did ask that the customer should be given an honest answer as he himself knew for a fact the funds were not held in a trust.
He stands behind the decision to tell the customer that all funds at Full Tilt were segregated, and still feels it was the right thing to do.
He then claimed that he attempted to get a statement from the finance department to show that there was indeed more money available than that of just players funds, yet he claimed the finance department had some difficulty in doing so. Parvis then read the email that the customer had received which clarified the segregation and use of all player accounts, Lederer claimed he never actually saw it and that it was a fairly odd email.
He was then quizzed on an email that Bitar had sent claiming that Full Tilt was not a bank and all players’ funds were safe. Lederer claimed that he felt Bitar meant something else with that statement, he felt that Bitar meant that if the Department Of Justice were to suddenly seize funds that all of the funds were not insured by the FDIC and that none of them were guaranteed.
Lederers Retirement From Management!
Right at the end of the second part of the interview, Lederer’s retirement was discussed. He had retired from management yet stayed on the board. Bitar had actually decided to bring in his own management team as a replacement to Lederer rather than opting for somebody who had some form of experience in running a company as large as Full Tilt.
Lederer seems to be painting somewhat of a picture that he was either kept in the dark about a lot of the goings on at Full Tilt. Whether anyone believes the story is another matter though. We look forward to the next installment with anticipation!