Operation Galaxy exposes Antonio Ricci’s illicit empire

Lea Hogg 3 weeks ago
Operation Galaxy exposes Antonio Ricci’s illicit empire

Emerging from the depths of Italy, a controversial story has resurfaced this week.

According to the Italian newspaper, Il Globo, the Italian Guardia di Finanza has executed a series of seizures, targeting corporate assets, trusts, and financial holdings linked to a Malta-registered company. This group, firmly established in the online gambling and betting sector, has found itself at the centre of a major investigation.

Operation Galaxy

Dubbed ‘Operation Galaxy’, this investigation has unearthed the lesser known aspects of the company’s involvement with the gambling sector, exposing the ‘Ndrangheta mafia’s infiltration into other unexplored facets of the operation. The seizures, amounting to a staggering €400 million, have shed light on the mafia’s extensive network and its illicit activities.

At the epicentre of this operation is Antonio Ricci, an entrepreneur whose name has become synonymous with this investigation. Ricci is believed to have established a criminal system that unlawfully collected online bets.

His operation, with its roots in Reggio Calabria, spread its branches abroad, reaching as far as Malta, Romania, Austria, and Spain.

The investigators suspect that the gambling association had ties with the ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

Evading Italian taxation

In exchange for protection and brand promotion online and in local establishments, the mafia was offered a share of the profits. Bookmakers allegedly entered agreements with the criminal group to strengthen their economic position in Calabria. To evade Italian taxation, the collected sums were transferred to the association’s overseas administrative base.

Ricci operated in Italy through an established organisation. This organisation had its assets seized in 2019. The District Anti-Mafia Directorate authorized an economic-patrimonial investigation, which led to the identification of assets that disproportionately exceeded the declared income capacity.

According to Il Globo, the Court ordered the seizure and subsequent confiscation of three online gaming and betting companies, two Maltese trusts, and related financial portfolios. The total value of these assets was estimated at approximately €400 million. Ricci now faces a Special Public Security Surveillance order for two and a half years.

Malta, a pioneer in online betting regulation since 2004, is known for upholding rigorous regulatory standards within the EU. The jurisdiction’s risk-based approach actively enforces anti-money laundering obligations to curate an equitable gambling environment.

From hero to zero, from business mogul to alleged crime mastermind

Antonio Ricci, a man of 48 years, found himself targeted by Operation Galaxy. He was arrested in Malta under a European arrest warrant and extradited to Italy in January 2020. The investigation, coordinated by anti-mafia prosecutors in Reggio Calabria, uncovered the existence of a criminal system aimed at the illegal collection of bets.

Antonio Ricci, a name that will forever be etched in the annals of this investigation, has a history that is as intriguing as it is controversial. Born and raised in Italy, Ricci was a businessman who had his fingers in many pies.

However, his involvement in the online gambling industry would prove to be his downfall. His ties with the ‘Ndrangheta mafia and his alleged role in establishing a criminal system for the unlawful collection of online bets have cast a long shadow over his legacy. Despite the wealth and power he amassed, Ricci’s story serves as a stark reminder of the perils of crossing the line of legality.

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