Two-Malta based online companies have been forced to pay millions by the UK’s gambling regulator for breaching anti-money laundering rules.

Another, CZ Holdings of Birkirkara, decided to voluntarily surrender its licence in the UK soon after it got wind that its operations there were under surveillance.

Times of Malta is informed that Casumo, based in Swieqi and owned by 58 shareholders, mostly Swedes but also a number of Maltese, was fined €6.5 million.

Videoslots, based in Birkirkara and also owned by Swedes, paid a €1.1 million settlement in lieu of a fine.

Although Malta-based, the irregularities by the two companies occurred in the UK, industry sources said.

The UK Gambling Commission said it would not tolerate any breaches of strict anti-money laundering rules. It decided to list two senior management members of Casumo in its ‘personal licence regulatory sanction’ register.

Swedish CEO Oscar Simonsson and money laundering reporting officer Matthew Borg Manchè were officially warned and now risk being banned from operating in the UK in case of another infringement.

The UK regulator said that, apart from the Maltese companies, it had also proceeded against a number of other operators that were served with ‘advice to conduct’ letters. Another six companies are under investigation.

Gambling Commission CEO, Neil McArthur, said the watchdog hoped the latest announcement on its investigations would make all online casino operators “sit up and pay attention as our investigators found that a large number of operators and their senior management were not meeting their obligations”.

In Malta, anti-money laundering surveillance does not fall within the remit of the Malta Gaming Authority, which licensed the two companies in question, but under the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

Questions sent to the FIAU on the decision by the UK regulator and whether it was now also looking into the conduct of the two Maltese gambling companies remained unanswered at the time of writing.

Malta’s gaming industry has been under the spotlight for a number of years with claims of close associations between some organised crime groups and online operators, which could be used for money laundering activities.

Read: ‘Mafia-linked’ gaming firm operated with no licence

Earlier this year, the MGA withdrew the licences of Maltese companies owned by Italian businessmen after the authorities in Italy took criminal action related to money laundering and organised crime.

Some Maltese companies having Italian interests have surrendered their Maltese licence themselves.

The Investigative Reporting Project Italy, a group of Italian investigative journalists, had reported that some of the Italian gambling operators based in Malta and who had surrendered their licence had just changed their names and moved to the cryptocurrency business, which the Malta government is actively championing.

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