Amaya was ‘aware’ of PokerStars tax dispute before takeover

Amaya was ‘aware’ of PokerStars tax dispute before takeover

Friday, March 13, 2015

Canadian gaming company Amaya has confirmed that it was aware of a tax dispute focusing on PokerStars’ operations in Italy before it acquired the online poker operator last year.

PokerStars has been accused of fraud and tax evasion totalling €300m ($318m) between 2009 and 2014 by Italy’s financial authorities, the Guardia di Finanza del Comando Provinciale di Roma.

The allegations of shifting funds through Malta and the Isle of Man to avoid tax emerged following an investigation by authorities into PokerStars’ Italian subsidiary, Halfords Media Italy.

“The tax dispute relates to operations of PokerStars dating from before the acquisition of the company by Amaya in August 2014,” Amaya said.

“The merger agreement related to that transaction provides remedies to address certain income tax and other liabilities that might occur post-closing but stemming from operations prior to the date of acquisition, including monies held in escrow as initial sources for indemnification.

“The current tax dispute is something Amaya was aware of prior to the transaction. Amaya does not anticipate that these tax issues would apply to future fiscal periods.

“The company's operations continue as usual on www.pokerstars.it and it remains focused on delivering the most popular online poker service in the Italian market.”

PokerStars’ head of corporate communications, Eric Hollreiser, told the Malta Independent newspaper: “PokerStars has been working with Italian tax authorities since they launched an audit several years ago.

“We have operated in compliance with the applicable local tax regulations and have paid €120m over the period covered by the audit.”

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