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05|13|2008 03:28 pm EDT

.Asia and Pool.com Come Under Fire

by Adam Strong in Categories: Alternate Extensions

Domain Name News received a “press release” today from Thomas Rucker of Madunia GmbH. In the emailed article, he refers to the sunrise auctions of .asia domains as “shady” and “dubious”. Rucker’s claims that the CEO of Pool.com, Richard Schreier, is benefiting from the company’s relationship as auctioneer of the .asia domains.

[Update]: DNN has received a response via our comments from Pool.com’s CEO, Richard Schreier, which we have now quoted below.

Pool.com was contracted by the .asia registry to auction all domain names that received multiple applicants during the .asia landrush period.

Rucker points out that the CEO of the company that auctions these domains likely would have inside information on the top bids placed on these names. Rucker has discovered that Schreier is also the owner of several other companies in Europe which have acquired some of the premium keyword .asia domains including Porn.asia , Dating.asia and Insurance.asia. Rucker has documented his opinions and findings on this matter at the site dotasia-complot.org View the emailed “release” after the jump.

“Dubious auctions with .asia-Topdomains

A few weeks ago the new toplevel domain .asia get started, first with a sunrise period, in which trademark holders could announce their trademark rights.The rules said, that, if there are more than one submitter, the domain has to be auctioned. Also in the following landrush-period: More than one submission, and the domain gets into an auction. The registry dotasia in Hongkong has tasked the canadian company pool.com to be the auctioneer.

But under shady circumstances some camouflaged companies caught many valuable top-domains in these .asia-auctions. And these companies are owned by tycoon Richard Schreier, CEO of this dotasia-auctioneer pool.com.

There is a probable cause that the auctioneer pool.com and its CEO knows and exploits the maximum bids of all competitors. but this and also the fact, that these bidding parties are owned by the CEO of the auctioneer seems to be no problem for the registry dotasia. “

Today this response from Pool.com’s CEO Richard Schreier reached us via our comments:

I would like to provide a response to the false and defamatory statements posted at http://www.dotasia-complot.org by Thomas Reucker and Madunia Modellbau GmbH. It should be noted that we believe the actions taken by Thomas Reucker and Madunia Modellbau GmbH are a retaliation by Reucker/Madunia as a result of their exclusion from certain DotAsia auctions (which Reucker/Madunia itself discloses on the “notes” section of the website). This exclusion was the result of the investigation by Pool.com and the DotAsia Organisation into possible bid rigging (Ref: http://www.dotasia.org/policies/DotAsia-AdvisoryOnAuctionTampering–2008-03-24.pdf), which in Canada is a criminal act punishable by fines and imprisonment. This investigation is proper and warranted. We will resist all efforts to interfere in this investigation or otherwise undermine the integrity of the .ASIA auctions.

In regards to specific allegations made on the website, the following are irrefutable facts.

First, http://www.dotasia-complot.org contains numerous false, misleading and defamatory statements that are intended to harm the reputation and goodwill of Pool.com and Richard Schreier. Richard Schreier nor Pool.com do not have any ownership interest in Drake Domains Corporation, Drake Ventures Limited or Throne Ventures Pty. Ltd. The materials on the Website that state otherwise are factually incorrect and designed to injure Richard Schreier and Pool.com’s business relations with the DotAsia Organisation. Other statements on the Website – for example, that Mr. Schreier is a “cheat” and/or is engaged in fraudulent or improper conduct – are untrue and derogatory and malicious in the extreme. They also accuse Richard Schreier and Pool.com of criminal behavior, a statement that is patently false and highly prejudicial.

Second, it is a matter of record that Drake Ventures did submit bids in the .ASIA sunrise auctions during the Sunrise 2 phase supported by their prior rights. These prior rights were verified by an unbiased third party agent to DotAsia Organization as were all Sunrise 2 submissions. All bids were submitted in strict compliance with conflict-of-interest procedures agreed to by DotAsia Organisation. As a Pool.com customer, Drake Ventures bids were deposited with a third party attorney as a safeguard against even the appearance of impropriety.

Third, it is also a matter of record that bids were placed by Drake Ventures at the start of an auction and no further bidding was made once the pre-established bid had been placed. To act on “inside information” would suggest that bidding continues once competitive bids are known. Auction history records, publicly available to all auction participants, show that Drake Ventures one and only bid for each auction were submitted on the first day of an auction and no further bidding occurred. Indeed, Drake Ventures lost 18 of the 21 domain auctions in which they were a participant. This is hardly an indication that somehow Drake Ventures secured an unfair advantage in auction bidding.

I trust this clarifies and addresses the issues raised by Mr. Reucker. I can assure all .ASIA participants that I and Pool.com are committed to the integrity of .ASIA auctions as we are with all auctions held at Pool.com. Any individual questions or concerns may be addressed to me at richard@pool.com

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10 Comments

Damir

May 13, 2008 @ 10:40 pm EDT

Thanks for the article

Hung Ying

May 14, 2008 @ 10:43 am EDT

2007.11.12 — More than 15,000 applications received for new .Asia domain — Interest in the new .Asia domain is gaining momentum as the second phase of registration begins November 13 (??)

Experts predict that 95 percent of all South Korean households will be wired for broadband Internet by the year 2010. Ninety-four percent of Japanese homes will have broadband access, with Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia expected to be nearly 80 percent wired. By 2010, China will have replaced the US as the largest Internet market in the world.

david

May 14, 2008 @ 9:06 pm EDT

So can you confirm, there is no relationship whatsoever between Pool and Drake Ventures?

Also, if they lost 18 of the 21 domains they went for, how did they acquire the others (Drake ventures clearly own many premium domain names)

Thank you

Mike

May 14, 2008 @ 10:09 pm EDT

If there is no relationship between Pool and Drake Ventures, how can Schreir reveal supposedly confidential client information that Drake lost 18 auctions?

Richard Schreier responded to the reproaches: “Richard Schreier nor Pool.com do not have any ownership interest in Drake Domains Corporation, Drake Ventures Limited or Throne Ventures Pty. Ltd. The materials on the Website that state otherwise are factually incorrect.”

In my view, that is not correct, there are some questions about:

What about Throne, Drake and the Domain drakedomainscorp.com? As everybody here can proof by using public whois-services, this domain is owned by Richard Schreier. See also printout of the irish registries office IRO about ownership of Drake Ventures Ltd. (if you do not believe: for a small fee the IRO will send it to you). See also printout of the australian registries office ASIC about the ownership of Throne Ventures Pty Ltd. (if you do not believe: for a small fee the ASIC will send it to you). See also todays whois of http://www.drakedomainscorp.com (older whois on our website). See also todays whois of throneventures.eu
Who is Shanna Laughton? As you can see in the published annual report of Drake Ventures Limited, she is the mangaging director of drake ventures limited. She is from Ottawa, Canada like pool.com is. And there seems to be an oddly connection to the pool-parent momentous as you can see here. And Drake Ventures Limited is the owner of Throne.
Trademark pool owned by Drake. We found a disput for pool.eu (ADR) from drake ventures limited. Why is Drake the holder of the trademark “pool”?

You will find links to the above facts on
http://www.dotasia-complot.org/article77.html

Raffaele Della Peruta

May 16, 2008 @ 12:06 pm EDT

Can anyone tell me what the unique pool ID is of the accused?

I have been actively purchasing .ASIA domain names during the auction period and have been very surprised at some of the prices that have eliminated my final bidding price.

I have also seen many questionable things while participating in the auction process.

Is there one unique user name or multiple that are winning the names mentioned?

Richard Schreier

May 16, 2008 @ 12:47 pm EDT

Mr Ruecker continues to draw false conclusions from information he draws from the Internet. The WHOIS record for drakedomainscorp.com clearly shows the Registrant/OWNER of the domain is in fact Drake Domains Corporation. I am shown as the Admin Contact as I am for other Pool.com customers. Our and my lawyers will continue to provide Mr Ruecker with the facts of this situation. I hope he will soon acknowledge publicly his error.

David asked to confirm the relationship between Drake Ventures and Pool and I can confirm as I have said previously, Drake Ventures is a customer of Pool.com. We provided domain acquisition services for them during the Sunrise Phase of the release of the EU tld as we did for hundreds of other customers with trademark rights. Drake Ventures is aware of the allegations placed by Mr Roecker and in the interest of refuting these allegations provided permission to release specific statistical data on competitive auctions where they were a participant that clearly shows niether they nor I could possibly be accused of bid rigging.

Even more compelling, the 3 domains that Drake Ventures won in auction (you can find this information out easily yourself by going through the list published by Mr Ruecker and comparing to the closed auctions report available at the DotAsia Registry site) were: lotto.asia, dating.asia and bet.asia. Each of these auctions closed with a winning bid of $10! Nobody submitted a competitive bid! These are the ONLY auctions Drake has won to date.

Again, I am appalled at the falsehoods being presented by Mr Ruecker and can only hope he will retract his claims.

As for the “many premium domain names” owned by Drake, I can only comment on those that received competitive applications by the registry and thus resulted in an auction. You may all recall that if a domain only received a single application during the Sunrise period, then it would be awarded to that single applicant provided the prior rights claim was validated by the registry’s validation agent. If any of you have questions on any one specific domain I would suggest you direct your inquiry to the registry.

Paul de Havilland

May 18, 2008 @ 10:10 am EDT

You say “As a Pool.com customer, Drake Ventures bids were deposited with a third party attorney as a safeguard against even the appearance of impropriety.”
Why the caution if there is no connection between Pool and Drake?

Richard Schreier

May 26, 2008 @ 1:52 pm EDT

As stated previsouly Paul, We provided domain acquisition services for them during the Sunrise Phase of the release of the EU tld as we did for hundreds of other customers with trademark rights. In order to make sure no one could possibly accuse Pool.com of manipultaing auctions for favoured customers Drake was required to follow certain procedures that ensured there was no possibility of prior auction knowledge.

I am still amazed the Mr Roecker continues to make all these bold claims about using inside auction infromation and has yet to show even ONE auction that Dtake Ventures won or even participated in where inside auction information can be demonstrated. The reason he has not shown this ie because it does not exist and frankly I will allow the legal commnuity to decide what to do about his false allegations.

John

June 14, 2008 @ 11:46 pm EDT

“lotto.asia, dating.asia and bet.asia. Each of these auctions closed with a winning bid of $10! Nobody submitted a competitive bid!”

Does it strike anyone as odd that only they bid on those obviously valuable domain names? I wouldn’t be surprised if other registrants of the domain did not get a notification about the start or end date of the auction, which is how they came to be the only ones “in the know” of when the auction started/finished.

It is ridiculous to think that under normal competitive conditions that no other bidders would be willing to bid greater than $10 for those domain names! Give us a break!

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