The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

Malta-based companies named in Italian investigation into illegal betting, money laundering

Wednesday, 14 November 2018, 12:09 Last update: about 3 years ago

Malta-based companies have been named in connection with a massive Italian investigation into money laundering by Italian organized crime groups who are said to be running the illegal betting industry ‘mafia style.’

Rai News has reported that 68 people have been arrested and assets worth over €1 billion were seized in Italy and abroad. The action came after three different investigations carried out by the prosecutors of Bari, Reggio Calabria and Catania, coordinated by the National Anti-Mafia and Counter-Terrorism Directorate. The volume of the bets is over €4.5 billion

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Those arrested include people linked with organized crime in Puglia, Reggio Calabria and Catania, as well as several entrepreneurs and nominees.

The Guardia di Finanza, state police and the Carabinieri are also executing some eighty search warrants in various cities.

The alleged crimes include association with the mafia, fraudulent transfers, money laundering, illegal collection of bets and tax evasion.

The investigations showed that the criminal groups had divided and controlled, in mafia style, the online clandestine betting market through different platforms managed by the same organizations.

The illegally accumulated money, which was monitored by the Guardia di Finanza, was then reinvested in real estate assets and financial positions abroad in the name of persons, foundations and companies, all obviously shielded thanks to the complicity of various nominees.

The collaboration of Eurojust and the judicial authorities of Austria, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, the Netherlands, Curacao, Serbia, Albania, Spain and Malta was fundamental in tracing the accumulated assets and carrying out the seizures, Rai reports.

Il Corriere del Giorno reported that the Bari investigation, dubbed Lenel.com, revolved around an organization that operated in Puglia headed by Vito Martiradonna, 70, a well-known exponent of the Bari crime.

He is considered to be the head of the Pugliese group dismantled this morning on charges of having organized an online betting ring based in Malta and in other countries with low taxation.

The illegal activities revolved around a number of betting companies, including the London-based ParadiseBet and Centurionbet, which is located in Malta. The latter company had changed its name to Bet1128. The MGA suspended its license in 2017.

Another news website said Italian two criminal groups with links to the mafia in Sicily, Campania and Calabria had set up a multinational illegal betting ring, moving more than €1 billion euro from Malta to Curacao, passing through the Virgin Islands and the Seychelles.

Another report, this time focusing on the Calabria investigation, says the Italian authorities looked into the Maltese companies SKS365 MALTA Ltd, owner of the "PlanetWin365" brand, and the "Betaland "and" Enjoybet "brands.

Yet another report says that goods and cash were seized in Albania, Austria, Britain, Germany, the Isle of Man, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Serbia, the Seychelles and Switzerland.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday evening, Parliamentary Secretary Silvio Schembri said the Maltese authorities were being proactive and were working to clean up the industry.

He said the Malta Gaming Authority had cooperated with the Guardia di Finanza for the first time ever. The two entities will soon sign an agreement, he said. 

 

Statement by OIA Services Ltd

In a statement, OIA Services Ltd, the Maltese company that owns the ‘Betaland’ and ‘Enjoybet’ brands, said that, after a “deep check” by the Italian Authorities, it has been authorized by the Prosecutor of Reggio Calabria to restore full operations with its land-based affiliation business model.

“OIA Services LTD had been first reconnected by ADM to the national tote system in the previous weeks; now the recent decision confirms that Betaland operations are legal and that the land-based affiliation model (PVR) is consistent and compliant with the existing regulation. Therefore, OIA Services LTD can confirm its presence in the Italian regulated market as online gaming legitimated operator,” the company said.

“OIA has on the other hand, always stated that it has no relation to the alleged facts and has always declared its absolute availability, it has collaborated with the competent authorities.

The investigations started two months, ago in Bari, Catania and Reggio Calabria, and several companies in the gaming industry reporting tax evasion and black market gambling websites.”

He said the Malta Gaming Authority had cooperated with the Guardia di Finanza for the first time ever. The two entities will soon sign an agreement, he said. 

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