To identify licensees with Mafia connections
The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is reportedly collaborating with Italian authorities to intensify controls on licensees who have a connection to Italy following its suspension of Phoenix International Ltd after the arrest of alleged Mafia-kingpin Benedetto Bacchi.
Bacchi is alleged to control a large number of illegal betting shops that link to Malta-licensed online gambling websites such as B2875, Bsport24.com and B28sport.com, all connected to Phoenix International Ltd in Malta (see previous InfoPowa reports).
In an exclusive interview with Italian news portal Agimeg, executive chairman of the MGA, Joseph Cuschieri, said the authority would be tightening up on Italian-linked gaming firms which currently comprise around 5 percent of its existing licensees, in line with AML rules and conditions.
Agimeg alludes to a further seven Italian-linked licensees who are reportedly under investigation by Italian authorities and the MGA.
“We have very strict and transparent rules, and we immediately launch investigations every time the Italian authorities report suspicions against gaming companies, even though we don’t have the investigation capacity of the police and the judiciary,” Cuschieri told Agimeg. “We collaborate with the Italian authorities constantly and in a timely manner, and there is mutual respect between us.”
UPDATE: Just in, the MGA has announced the creation of a new dedicated Anti-Money Laundering Unit which is says will be conducting AML/CFT supervisory assessments through on-site and off-site inspections, findings from which will be reported to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).
According to the press release, the team of AML officers within the unit have received extensive training by local and international experts in AML/ CFT activities to ensure it has the necessary capability, skill and capacity to conduct effective off-site and on-site assessments for all licensees both land based and remote.
“With the transposition of the 4th AML Directive into Maltese Law, some on-site examinations shall be carried out jointly with the FIAU,” the MGA said.
In addition, the MGA has drawn up an AML/CFT supervisory plan for 2018, which includes a significant number of on-site visits to both land based and remote gaming operators and has conducted an organisation wide AML/CFT training programme to ensure its staff are up to speed on AML/CFT.