Planet business



In numbers, Treasury Holdings

€20 million

The amount KBC Bank wants property developer Treasury Holdings to repay this month – if it does not, the bank will seek to wind up the company

€3 million

The repayment demands issued by State agency Nama to Treasury founders Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett

€1 billion

The amount that Treasury owes Nama, which wants to appoint receivers to the company’s Irish properties

€2.7 billion

The overall figure owed by Treasury to its creditors, including Nama

Getting to know: Raymond Bitar

Late of Ireland and California, and more recently of Bermuda, Raymond Bitar, chief executive of Full Tilt Poker, branded a Ponzi scheme by US authorities, gave himself up to police at JFK Airport in New York this week to face fraud charges.

Prosecutor Preet Bharara says that Bitar and his colleagues effectively defrauded players on Full Tilt’s website of $350 million and used funds that should have been available to clients to pay the company’s executives.

Full Tilt’s operations are run out of Dublin, through its Pocket Kings subsidiaries. Bitar is still a director of the Irish-registered companies. He did have a residence here, and reportedly flew to New York from Dublin on the day of his arrest, but his most recent address is Bermuda.

The website’s problems led to the authorities in the channel island of Alderney to withdraw its licences last autumn. This, in turn, forced the company to begin laying off 250 of the staff working at its Dublin offices in Cherrywood.

Bharara made his original charges in April last year in an indictment that named executives of Full Tilt, along with rivals Poker Stars and Absolute Poker. He returned to court in September with further allegations.

Bitar pleaded not guilty and said he had spent the last 15 months attempting to find ways of repaying players. He also said he understands why many people are angry with him.

His Irish company has not exactly been following Bitar’s own attempts at candour. Pocket Kings has remained tight-lipped throughout the last 15 months, issuing only a brief statement when it was forced to begin laying people off.

Image of the week

Urbane, distinguished, yoga-loving Rodrigo Rato has a gold-plated CV. He is a former head of the International Monetary Fund and was the government minister credited with creating Spain’s economic miracle in the mid-1990s.

He was also president of Bankia, the Spanish lender which went public last year and is now likely to cost more than €23 billion to bail out.

Spain’s premier, Mariano Rajoy, forced Rato out of the role last May and he is one of a number of executives facing fraud charges as a result of the bank’s collapse.

The accusations that he and his colleague face include fraud, price-fixing and falsified accounts, according to reports.

The face of the once-respected minister is on stickers pasted on cash machines by protesters, and on posters waved at marches demanding accountability. The state had to rescue seven banks at a time when the economy is in recession and one in four workers is jobless.

The picture showing him with a seemingly despairing head in his hand was actually taken at a press conference earlier in February, when the pressure was building.

Bankia floated in July 2011 and more than 400,000 small investors bought shares which have lost virtually all their value.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it . . .

The lexicon: Reverse fulfilment

Ever wondered what happens when you return something you’ve bought because of some problem or other. Well, apparently it goes back into the supply chain where it is handled by “reverse fulfilment” people, whose job it is to find if anything can be salvaged from laptops’ dodgy motherboards or past-its-sell-by-date confectionary.