A Maltese Casino Fined A Pittance For Facilitating A Drug Dealer And A Tax Evader!

Casino Malta fined for money laundering failures
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Casino Malta Limited failed to report suspected activities by an alleged drug trafficker and another player linked to bribery and tax evasion. Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis (FIAU) announced it had fined Casino Malta, run by Eden Leisure Gaming, €233,000 for serious and systemic failures in its measures to prevent financial crime. The directors of the casino are Ian De Cesare, Kevin De Cesare, and Corey David Plummer. Allegedly, Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela was legal counsel to the Eden Leisure Group.

Ian De Cesare Casino Malta
Ian De Cesare

Casinos are expected to maintain tight control of gamblers due to the prevalence of money laundering in the gambling industry. The FIAU highlighted how, in one case, a registered plasterer facing drug trafficking accusations was allowed to continue to wager “substantial amounts” despite a freezing order.

Although the casino was “unaware” of the freezing order, it knew that the player was facing drug trafficking proceedings in court but failed to report his potentially suspicious activities to the FIAU.

Kevin De Cesare Casino Malta
Kevin De Cesare

In another case, a formerly politically exposed person was allowed to bet “great amounts of cash” despite his alleged bribery and tax evasion involvement. Even in this case, the casino failed to make a suspicious transaction report to the FIAU.

Another player with €500,000 in unpaid taxes was allocated a low-risk rating by the casino, despite the company having adverse records suggesting that this customer had been involved in “fraudulent events which included tax evasion.”

In one example, the FIAU said a student “with links to China” gambled €200,000 in cash and lost €80,000 in just 12 months.

The casino was found to have also tolerated large cash drops by customers without adequately questioning the source of those funds.

The FIAU said the casino had not provided it with any reassurances about how the student could afford such substantial amounts in a relatively short period between January and December 2019.

A CEO “with connections to Turkey” also wagered massive cash amounts without being challenged by the casino about his wealth.

The FIAU said the casino allocated the player a medium-risk rating, subsequently increasing to high. The player dropped over €1 million at the casino, most of which was in cash, using eight different bank accounts.

Contrary to its anti-money laundering obligations, the FIAU noted how the casino failed to gather any information or documentation on the player’s source of funds and wealth.

The FIAU said the ultimate aim of anti-money laundering controls is to capture potentially suspicious transactions or activity.

The compliance review by FIAU took place in 2019. However, for unexplainable reasons, the fine was issued four years later. FIAU’s heads, including Kenneth Farrugia, Alfred Zammit, Elena Tabone, Jonathan Phyall, and Daniella Mizzi, do not declare their conflicts of interest to the public.

CategoriesFIAU Malta

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