Blanca Games, operator of both Absolute Poker and UB, issued a statement over the weekend in an attempt to clarify the activities on Friday, during which agents of the Organismo de Investigaciones Judiciales (OIJ) (essentially, the Costa Rican FBI) raided the offices of the two poker rooms.

As could be seen in a Costa Rican news broadcast, and was confirmed by Blanca Games, the raid occurred at the offices of a company called Innovative Data Solutions (IDS), the customer service center for both Absolute Poker and UB. Rumors were flying that the raids were somehow related to the April 15th indictments of eleven people involved in online poker, including Absolute Poker principals Scott Tom and Brent Beckley, but Blanca claims this is not true.

The Blanca press release read, in part, “The Organismo de Investigaciones Judiciales (“OIJ”) took action yesterday to further their investigation of Olman Rimola, the owner of IDS, Scott Tom, who was also recently named in the indictment list issued by the Department of Justice on April 15th, and a third lesser known party, Oldemar Vargas.”

A Blanca spokesperson went on to say:

“We want to correct the rumors being reported in poker circles and the wider community that yesterday’s events are related to the recent Department of Justice indictments. Our understanding is that this is not the case, and that they were driven by local investigations of a separate matter in Costa Rica that involves a concerted effort to locate and apprehend Rimola, Tom and Vargas for questioning in relation to a money laundering investigation.”

Other than what Blanca Games has said, it still is not 100 percent clear exactly what the OIJ raids were all about or if they were coordinated at all with the U.S. FBI. A.J. Green, a former Costa Rica law enforcement agent and Absolute Poker security staffer, said on the QuadJacks radio show that both the FBI and Interpol were stronger driving forces behind the raid than was the OIJ, but this may not be anything more than speculation, as there has been no other evidence presented to indicate any organization besides the OIJ was involved.

OIJ agents also reportedly visited both Tom’s and Rimola’s residences.

The PokerStars offices in Costa Rica were also raided, but as it turns out, it was a case of mistaken identity, as law enforcement officials had thought they were hitting Absolute and UB.

The past week has been rough for Absolute Poker and UB. On May 5th, Blanca Games announced that it was laying off almost its entire workforce in order to trim labor costs as much as possible as it re-focuses on its non-U.S. facing business. Then Friday brought the raids. The latest blow came yesterday, when Blanca released all of its U.S.-based sponsored pros from their contracts. These players include members of Team UB Prahlad Friedman, Eric “Basebaldy” Baldwin, Joe Sebok, Maria Ho, Tiffany Michelle, Brandon Cantu, Scott Ian, Bryan Devonshire, “Hollywood” Dave Stann, and Adam “Roothlus” Levy, as well as Absolute Poker’s Trishelle Cannatella.

Additionally, poker writer/investigative reporter extraordinaire, Haley Hintze, published on her blog last week communications between Rimola and UB COO Paul Leggett in which Rimola demanded $2.75 million owed to IDS by UB to pay IDS’ terminated employees their severance. Rimola threatened to disclose information about Absolute and UB (whatever that may be) to U.S. law enforcement officials if IDS did not receive the money by May 3rd. He also seemed to fear for his life, saying to Leggett, “Just a reminder, if anything happens to me, or people close to me, I have prepared 3 sets of this information which are in hands of 3 different lawyers, with instructions to proceed with US Embassy and Costa Rican authorities.”

The money was paid shortly thereafter, but that apparently wasn’t the end of the situation. According to the Blanca press release, some or all of those funds never made it to IDS employees.

“Blanca has terminated its supplier contract with IDS after discovering that Rimola has misappropriated millions in IDS severance payments,” the statement reads. “The company is currently exploring all legal options available to recover the lost funds. Furthermore, Blanca is cooperating fully with the local Ministerio de Trabajo (Department of Labor Officials) in Costa Rica in order to coordinate an alternative method to remit all severance payments to IDS employees, thereby bypassing the facilities of IDS and Rimola to ensure that all obligations to former employees are fulfilled.”

Stay tuned to Poker News Daily as events continue to unfold.

Comments are closed.