Italian Authorities Clamp Down on Illegal Gambling Linked to Mafia

A criminal investigation called Double Game was set up by Italian authorities to fight organized crime and illegal gambling. So far, $95.8 million have been seized, and 23 people face restrictive measures. Wirecard processed payments were allegedly used by the Italian Mafioso.

Illegal Gambling and Organized Criminal Syndicate  

A criminal investigation conducted by Italian authorities has clamped down on illegal gambling linked to organized crime. Dubbed “Double Game,” the investigation has seized $95.8 million, and 23 people from Sicily’s Cosa Nostra await restrictive measures.

According to ANSA, an Italian news agency, 12 of the 23 people facing restrictions are in pre-trial detention in jail, two are under house arrest, and nine are barred from engaging in commercial activity.

The Santapaola-Ercolano Mafia faction in Catania is targeted by the investigation with allegations that the faction has a running illegal gambling website called RaiseBet24.com. The site has been under much scrutiny recently because its site does not have permission to operate in Italy, yet it’s active on servers in Malta.

The site encourages people to use cash when betting instead of the typical payment methods in other online gambling sites. The mafia later uses that money, the investigation claims, to buy companies and buildings in Italy, Germany, and Poland as a way to launder the money.

Money Laundering in Europe

Italian mafia organization ’Ndrangheta is under investigation by the authorities for several crimes such as illegal betting, aggravated fraud, tax evasion, murder, drug trafficking, loan sharking, and many more. Currently, 356 people are named as suspects in these crimes from ranging from Sicily to Malta.

The syndicate is also under investigation for allegedly laundering money using Wirecard. The criminal organization is said to control 80% of the cocaine supply in Europe and is deep in illegal gambling.

Italian investigation shed alleged light on a “partnership” between the ’Ndrangheta criminal organization and CenturionBetgaming company operating out of Malta. The syndicate reportedly used Wirecard payment processes to launder millions of dollars. A link from a proxy and a server put CenturionBet and the ’Ndrangheta criminal organization in cahoots to move money out of the country.

Wirecard is required by law to follow strict anti-money laundering (AML) procedures, just like a traditional bank. The payment processor also worked with another Maltese gambling business that was connected to many more illegal enterprises and activities. 

Wirecard may not have known that this was happening when the first reports appeared. At the time, the company successfully passed a compliance review. However, in June 2020, the company acknowledged that many of its touted €24 billion assets were fake, leading to the arrest of former CEO Markus Braun, who is now facing fraud charges.

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