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They're doubling down! Lawyers for gambling mega site Full Tilt Poker called the Justice Department's bluff yesterday, railing against the government's characterization of its company as a "global Ponzi scheme" earlier this week. "While the government has obviously taken issue with the underlying activities of FTP, under any reasonable interpretation, the world-wide operations of the online cardroom are not a so-called Ponzi scheme," said Ian Imrich, an attorney representing the websites owner Chris Ferguson (pictured above), a celebrity poker player. The Wall Street Journal fleshes out Full Tilt's argument:

The issues at Full Tilt should be likened to that of a problematic bank, rather than an illegal investment scheme, according to Jeff Ifrah, an attorney who represents the company in related litigation and is the personal attorney of Chief Executive Raymond Bitar. "A Ponzi scheme requires an investment vehicle in order to receive a certain rate of high return," Mr. Ifrah said. "None of those things happened here." Instead, he said, "maybe it was mismanaged."

Meanwhile, the Justice Department alleges that while the website's business was faltering, executives at Full Tilt paid themselves $444 million. As the Journal reports "Government actions to limit the company's ability to process money through banks had made it increasingly impossible to move player money into company-affiliated bank accounts, the government said."

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