Wirecard has facilitated payments for CenturionBet, an online gaming brand originally licensed in Malta and controlled through a proxy by the powerful Italian Mafiosi organization, the ’Ndrangheta, an investigation by the Financial Times has revealed.
CenturionBet Laundered Millions Worth of Euro for the Mafia
Wirecard processed payments that have in all likelihood been used to facilitate money-laundering operations at a Maltese online casino owned by the ’Ndrangheta, a criminal clan based in Europe. According to an article published by Miles Johnson in the Financial Times, the payments have helped launder millions worth of euro for the criminal organization.
The Financial Times further confirmed that it has seen official legal sources released by Italian authorities in confidence, that confirmed that Wirecard processed various payments to and from CenturionBet, a gaming company operating out of Malta, and the main one linked to the Mafia clan.
According to Italian authorities, CenturionBet is connected with the ’Ndrangheta through a proxy and has served as the basis of a money-laundering scheme to move money out of the country. The Financial Times was able to confirm that CenturionBet facilitated the laundering of millions worth of euros generated through various criminal activities in the southern Italian region of Calabria.
The article specified that the ’Ndrangheta have had a tight grasp on Europe’s largest refugee reception centers and have been successful in siphoning off funds that were originally allocated by the European Union to help take care of migrants arriving from North Africa.
It’s All Business, Wirecard in Bed with the Mafia
The Calabrian ’Ndrangheta is responsible for industrial-scale cocaine trafficking and has ties to Latin American drug cartels. The organization is linked to extortion and arms smuggling, murder and money laundering.
In 2017, CenturionBet, the company incorporated in Malta but controlled by a Panama shell company, lost its Maltese license and anti-mafia authorities raided and arrested 68 people.
Since then, some 30 people have been sentenced in relation to mafia crimes and links. While the overall amount traded by Wirecard was just a fraction of its global handle, this has been yet another reason to question the fintech company’s commitment to upholding customer safety and further put into question the integrity of the company itself.
For one, Wirecard is obliged by law to stick to strict anti-money laundering (AML) practices, just like a regular bank would. Not only that, but Wirecard was complicit with another Maltese gambling firm, which was tied up to more criminal organizations and activities, the Financial Times said, citing official documents.
Did Wirecard Know What It Was Doing?
Wirecard may not have been fully aware of the nature of the transactions nor that they were facilitating hot money in the first place. When the first reports about mafia links in Malta emerged, the company underwent a compliance review, but passed with success.
That was just one of the issues that the company would face in the coming months. In June, the company admitted that many of its touted €24 billion assets were in fact fictional, leading to the arrest of the company’s former CEO Markus Braun who is now facing fraud charges.
In 2019, 47-year-old Italian Francesco Martiradonna was sentenced to 11 years in prison after he was convicted of owning and having let CenturionBet to be controlled by criminal organizations knowingly.