Wednesday, February 28, 2018—The National Whistleblower Center in Washington published a letter. The letter was sent to Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. It was also sent to Gianluca Esposito, the executive secretary of the Group of States Against Corruption. The letter said it was seeking protection for Valery Atanasov, a former Malta Gaming Authority employee.
The letter claims Atanasov observed improper IT protocols and a lack of gambling regulation enforcement. Valery claimed this lax protocol was a potential way for money laundering and other crimes to occur. The letter stated Atanasov was disciplined and fired when he approached Malta Gaming Authority executives about the issues. The National Whistleblower Center is asking for the Group of States Against Corruption to monitor the case.
Thursday, March 1, 2018—The Malta Gaming Authority provided a response to the publication of the letter. They stated Atanasov lost his employment due to incompetence, abuse, ad poor performance. He was an IT administrator, who was charged with these issues in 2015, with records dating back to 2011 of his poor employment history with the company.
The Malta Gaming Authority further states Atanasov’s allegations of their wrongdoing were made during the end of the disciplinary proceedings he underwent. The Malta Gaming Authority is investigating the claims via an internal auditor who has not found any irregularities with the IT protocols.
The authority stated they did not take retaliatory action against Atanasov, until May 2017. In May, Atanasov made serious statements and false allegations regarding actions at Malta Gaming Authority. They followed judicial proceedings against Atanasov to protect the authorities’ reputation. In November 2017, Atanasov made an official claim.
Atanasov’s Official Claim
Atanasov made a claim for whistleblower protection in November. It was after Malta Gaming Authority decided action needed to be taken to protect their reputation and to ensure that Atanasov’s claims were not valid.
The MGA is willing to cooperate with the Group of States Against Corruption investigation and any other independent authority that may wish to investigate the claims. They want to prove that nothing incorrect occurred.
PM Muscat responded to Atanasov’s claims in parliament earlier in the week stated that the claims were investigated and unfounded. Malta’s regulators are already facing troubled waters for Italian online licensing issues. Their response to the Italian police was to start investigating all companies licensed in Italy through Malta and to ensure a new anti-money laundering unit is in place to stop any illegal actions.