Maltese authorities ramping up supervision of gambling companies?

A gaming company registered in Malta has been fined €386,000 by the Maltese Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit for breaching anti-money laundering rules.

Malta has emerged as the undisputed capital of Europe’s €24.5 billion online gambling industry. Observers are now wondering if this is a single event or an indication that Malta is seriously wanting to move out from the grey zone.

In June 2021 the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), added Malta to its “grey list” of 22 jurisdictions where it can’t be confident that basic financial safeguards are in place. The Maltese government has been trying to persuade international regulators that it can clean up the island’s financial system. Perhaps the recent EUR386,000 fine is one step in that direction. 

The company had failed to report suspicious activity or properly monitor politically exposed players on its gambling sites. A FIAU report says onsite inspections of the company revealed:

  • no risk assessment
  • lack of ongoing monitoring despite clear risks indicated
  • accounts that were not closed down in due time
  • failing PEP screening
  • no internal reporting

A significant share of companies licensed by the Swedish Gaming Authorities are registered in Malta and regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority. 

“-Online gambling offers many opportunities to launder money. With the global online gambling market forecast to double by 2023, from 59 million USD in 2019 to 93billion, this is a sector that really needs attention, from all actors sorting under AML regulations,”

says Ronny Gustavsson, Head of AML at FCG Advisory. 

“-We know that many organisations in the gambling industry are working hard to prevent financial crime, but to some extent still struggling to ensure fundamental processes such as risk assessment, monitoring and SAR. Grey-listing deters investors. When Maltese authorities are now stepping up efforts to tackle money laundering, companies will have to demonstrate what they have done so far and how effective their measures actually are.  One might wonder if this particular case now in Malta is a result of sheer neglect and lack of knowledge, or something else.” 

On the 4th of February, FCG is arranging a timely conversation with leading profiles in the Swedish gambling and betting sector in a 1-hour Q&A session on gambling and financial crime, open for participants.

Sign up here

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