Shocked Casino Malta responds to €229k FIAU fine for AML reporting failures

Posted: Mar 10, 2023 10:52 Category: Europe , Land-Based , Regulatory , Posted by Maria Debrincat

Casino to seek legal guidance on the best course of action to address these AML concerns

Casino Malta located in St Julian’s has been fined €229,000 by the Financial Analysis Intelligence Unit (FIAU) for neglecting to report potentially suspicious activities. The FIAU, which is responsible for enforcing anti-money laundering measures in Malta, found that the Casino owned by Eden Leisure Gaming had committed serious and systemic failures in its efforts to prevent financial crime.

The land-based casino is said to have failed to report activities that were deemed suspicious, such as allowing a man who was facing drug trafficking charges to place substantial wagers, even though he was subject to a freezing order. Although the casino claimed to be unaware of the order, it was aware that the player was facing drug trafficking proceedings in court, but still failed to report the activities to the FIAU.

Speaking to SiGMA News, Casino Malta claimed that as a casino they “are surprised and disappointed by the level of the administrative penalty that has been imposed given the significant level of investment put in to adhere to all the updates that have taken place over the last 5 years in the AML space.”

The Casino has invested in new software to assist and manage the process and added significant human resources to make sure that AML procedures and processes are strictly followed in line with the regulations set in the compliance directives.”

The FIAU found that the casino had allowed a company CEO with connections to Turkey to deposit over €1 million in cash from eight different bank accounts, without obtaining proper documentation regarding the player’s source of wealth.

Furthermore, a politically exposed person who was allegedly involved in bribery and tax evasion was permitted to make substantial bets without the casino reporting the potentially suspicious transaction to the FIAU. Additionally, a player with €500,000 in unpaid taxes was given a low-risk rating, despite having adverse records indicating that the customer had been involved in tax evasion.

Although the FIAU criticised the casino for tolerating large cash drops without questioning the source of those funds, in a prior compliance visit it acknowledged the improvements carried out by the AML team. On this matter, a spokesperson from Casino Malta told SiGMA News: “We are happy that the FIAU has acknowledged the improvements carried out by the AML team following the compliance visit. We will be evaluating the report with our legal advisors and will decide our way forward on this matter.”

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