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Silvia Pavlof August 23, 2023 3 min read
Bulgaria’s NRA Cracks Down on Gambling-Related Money Laundering
A newly established unit will be primarily responsible for overseeing gambling activities and ensuring compliance with anti-money laundering regulations
In a bid to curb the alarming rise in money laundering cases within the gambling industry, Bulgaria’s National Revenue Agency (NRA) has unveiled its latest initiative – the Department for Prevention and Countermeasures against Money Laundering. This strategic move comes after a comprehensive evaluation of the nation’s vulnerabilities to money laundering and terrorist financing was conducted by a joint team of experts from NRA, the Ministry of Interior, the State Agency for National Security, the Financial Supervision Commission, and other government bodies.
Bulgaria Responds Swiftly to Money Laundering Risks with Specialized Unit
The need for such a specialized unit became apparent earlier this year, as weaknesses were identified in the existing assessment framework, urging authorities to take immediate action. Amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Measures Act are currently underway, aimed at addressing these identified gaps and reinforcing the legal apparatus to combat money laundering more effectively.
In recent years, Bulgaria’s gambling sector has witnessed unprecedented growth, but with that surge came an alarming spike in money laundering activities. Until recently, the country remained under the radar of international watchdogs due to its inclusion in the MONEYVAL Committee‘s enhanced monitoring program. However, post its removal from the program, Bulgaria now awaits an evaluation to determine if it will remain on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) “grey list,” a designation for countries requiring continued scrutiny.
The NRA emphasized its commitment to fostering cooperation between citizens, organizations, and regulatory bodies. Concerned individuals who come across suspicious gambling-related money laundering activities are encouraged to report their findings.
Multi-Agency Effort to Combat Money Laundering
The establishment of the Department for Prevention and Countermeasures against Money Laundering signifies a strategic shift towards strengthening the enforcement of the Anti-Money Laundering Measures Act and the Gambling Act. These legislations entrust the NRA with the pivotal role of ensuring regulatory compliance and preventing illicit financial flows within the gambling industry.
Notably, the inter-ministerial working group, comprising experts from NRA, the Ministry of Interior, the State Agency for National Security, the Financial Supervision Commission, and other relevant departments, has diligently collaborated to update the National Risk Assessment. This ongoing assessment aims to identify emerging threats and vulnerabilities in the context of money laundering and terrorist financing, necessitating regular revisions of the assessment methodology.
In other news, Bulgarian gambling operators employing self-excluded individuals may face fines ranging from BGN5,000 to BGN20,000 ($2,800-$11,250), according to NRA. The NRA’s newly-introduced self-exclusion register aims to prevent self-excluded individuals from working with gambling operators, in addition to barring their entry to gambling establishments.