Ray Bitar has reiterated claims that repayment of Full Tilt Poker players remains a top priority for the insolvent company. Surrendering to U.S. authorities is the "first step" of the process, Bitar said.
Full Tilt Poker co-founder and CEO Ray Bitar has stated that repaying players remains a priority to the company even though Bitar himself is facing a series of charges that could lead to a lengthy prison sentence.
Bitar on Monday surrendered to the U.S. authorities after having been under indictment for more than a year.
The surrender, Bitar stated in a media release, is the first step of a process that will hopefully lead to the paying out of debts to Full Tilt Poker's many players.
"I have worked hard on possible solutions to get the players repaid," Bitar stated. "Returning today is part of that process."
"Full Tilt should never have gotten into a position where it could not repay player funds," he added.
In an email to Pocket Kings staff in Dublin, Bitar further confirmed ongoing negotiations with PokerStars
about a potential takeover of the company. The acquisition of the Full Tilt assets by its competitor, Bitar claimed, could pave the way for the repayments.
The email was first published by a user on TwoPlusTwo
, and was soon after circulated heavily around several news outlets.
"It is as important as ever that we do everything possible to make that happen, and hopefully our deal with PokerStars will very soon make our goal a reality. My return to the US is part of this process," Bitar wrote.
"We have made arrangements for PokerStars to guarantee all July salaries. You should therefore have no concern about coming to work during this period. After that, we expect that your employment contracts will be assumed by the buyer of the company's assets," he added.
Upon returning to the U.S., Bitar was named in a new indictment against him, adding allegations that he deliberately misled players and pocketed millions of dollars even though he knew that Full Tilt Poker was in financial trouble.
U.S. prosecutors have dismissed all claims that Bitar was working on a solution to the paying out players, and have warned that he could face a prison sentence "to be measured in decades", if he is found guilty.
Bitar pleaded not guilty to the charges against him in a New York courtroom yesterday, and will now be held on a $2.5 million bond.
Poker.org will be following the case as it develops.