Italian Mafia Allegedly Had Plans To Infiltrate Malta Online Gambling Firms (Update)

Italian police anti-Mafia investigation uncovered advanced plans to relocate activity

The Times of Malta reports that Italian police in Palermo carrying out an anti-Mafia investigation have uncovered plans by the criminal organisation to relocate gambling activities via Malta-registered online gambling firms.

Police conducted a series of raids around Palermo last week, arresting 25 alleged Mafiosi. The anti-Mafia prosecutor in Palermo, Salvatore de Luca, claimed that Mafia leadership was planning to shift the organisation’s illegal activities to Malta in order to reduce risk.

“The Mafia bosses, particularly the clans from Resuttana-San Lorenzo (an area in southern Palermo) were putting in place a structured plan to translocate their illegal activities to Malta’s online gaming industry,” the chief procurator said.

“Malta has recently become the capital of online gambling and the Mafia bosses thought that this would be a good financial vehicle for them and less risky than making their money from extortion.”

Apparently the plan was not executed, but the intention was to find investors in Malta’s online gaming industry who could take over the illegal activities in which the clan in Palermo was involved, including the betting industry at Palermo’s race track.

Last week’s anti-Mafia operation, dubbed Operazione Talea, led to the closure of the Palermo horse race track as it was considered to be controlled by the Resuttana-San Lorenzo clan.

Connections between organised crime and Malta’s online gambling industry have surfaced before (see previous InfoPowa reports). Last month seven arrests were made in Northern Italy in connection with a multi-million online gambling racket involving parlours across Italy directly connected to a server hosted at a Malta-based company.

Massimiliano Fullin and Fabio Vaglianetti, directors of Medialive Limited and both residing in Malta, were among those arrested.

According to the Italian police, all the proceeds of gambling in some 24 establishments in six Italian regions were bypassing the Italian authorities by using Malta-based servers. Some Euro 10 million in taxes due to the Italian State was avoided, according to the investigation.

In 2013, Malta’s gaming industry was involved in another Italian investigation connecting the ‘Ndrangheta – the Calabrian Mafia – accused of laundering money though online gaming companies in Italy, Malta and other countries. The Malta-based companies BetSolutions4U and Uniq Group Ltd were named in the Italian investigation and were suspended by the Malta Gaming Authority.