Mario Gennaro, the former point man for ’Ndrangheta crime syndicate’s gambling operations in Malta, has received a gaming license from the Italian regulatory authority, according to Malta Today.
Gennaro has been permitted to resurrect Betuniq in Italy, the company he ran in Malta on behalf of the ’Ndrangheta, the Calabrian Mafia.
The decision, which has baffled the Malta Gaming Authority, appears to have been taken as a means to reward Gennaro for turning snitch on his former employers.
In July 2015, Italian police raided over a thousand establishments across Italy and abroad, seizing assets worth €2 billion ($2.2 billion), as they smashed a vast gambling empire run by the notorious crime syndicate.
Police hit 1,500 betting shops, 45 Italian companies and 11 foreign firms in the raids, as well as 82 online gambling sites. Six of the companies targeted were based in Malta and all were accused of laundering large sums money for the ’Ndrangheta.
Embarrassment for Malta
Malta, which licenses hundreds of online gaming brands, was forced to suspend nine licensees as a result of the operation. Two licensees, Gennaro and Fenplay Ltd director Vincenzo Giuliano, were arrested in the raids.
The scandal severely embarrassed Malta, raising questions about its licensing processes and shaking its status as a respected regulatory hub. Malta is economically dependent upon its status as a trusted gambling jurisdiction and the domestic press railed against the apparent failure of due diligence.
But now the press is demanding to know why a proven money-launderer for the Mob has been permitted to resurrect his business. Gennaro was described by an Italian judge as the ’Ndrangheta’s “new man,” who was the syndicate’s “instrument and guarantor” in its attempt to infiltrate the betting industry.
This week the Betuniq website was back online, after a judge recommended Gennaro for licensing, praising his “decisive contribution” to the ’Ndrangheta investigation.
The Italian media say that Gennaro’s role will be confined to marketing, promotions and strategic planning in the resurrected company. Betuniq’s new director, Vincent Saviano, said the company hopes to reopen within 15 days and will offer an array of online poker and live dealer casino games as well as sports betting.
“With the beginning of a new era, and with humility, we are once again at your service,” the company’s webpage announces.