Counter-Terrorism Breaches at Heart of Malta Casino Fine
It has been revealed that Casino Malta has failed to complete adequate AML and CTF checks on an individual from Turkey, which allowed the person to gamble close to €1 million in cash gathered from several bank accounts without the source of funds being checked.
As a result, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) - a government agency that is responsible for taking action against money laundering and terrorist financing in Malta, has hit Casino Malta with a €233,834 fine.
The reasons listed were due to inadequate risk assessment procedures and a lack of due diligence.
The company should have carried out additional measures such as obtaining documentation as to this player’s source of wealth (SOW) as well as the income earned and other returns generated through his employment/businesses.
FIAU Clamping Down on Wrongdoing
The last few months have seen the FIAU encounter a number of issues with the casino, and this is not the first time that it has seemingly failed to carry out a substantial risk assessment on a customer.
A student that was connected to China wagered €200,000, losing €80,000 of it throughout 2019, without any checks being carried out.
Meanwhile, between 2016 and 2019, another customer was freely allowed to gamble €2 million, losing €900,000, and in another instance, an individual who listed his occupation as ‘plasterer’ was allowed to wager a considerable amount, although having a lawsuit against him for suspected drug trafficking and a freezing order.
The company, although unaware of the freezing order, knew of the ongoing court proceedings against the customer.
Notwithstanding this, the company never submitted a suspicious transaction report (STR) to the FIAU in relation to this and continued to allow the player to wager substantial amounts.
How Can This Be Combatted?
What is clear is that there is still a major problem with failure to comply with AML and CTF regulations, with much more clearly needed to be done.
It can be tempting for casinos to ignore these regulations when such a large amount of money is likely to be wagered; however, in the long term, it is protecting the casino as well, in addition to possibly identifying culprits associated with possible criminal activity.
The technology appears to be there when it comes to tracking a customer’s source of funds, though the reasons for failing to comply, it appears, are, as yet, non-existent.
Potentially placing FIAU representatives in casinos could be one way to prevent further flouts of the law and certainly may be an effective solution in the short term.