Former Colombian Gaming Regulators Arrested for Corruption, Fraud
Posted on: April 3, 2017, 04:00h.
Last updated on: April 3, 2017, 03:16h.
Police raids across Colombia in South America have resulted in the arrests 31 people on gambling and corruption charges, including casino operators and former executives of Coljuegos, the country’s gambling regulator.
According to the public prosecutor’s office, the arrests relate to the improper awarding of gambling licenses and concessions to operators in the Eje Cafetero, Colombia’s coffee-growing region.
Several current and former regulators are accused of having “undue interest” in the conclusion of contracts, and of awarding contracts without the fulfillment of due legal requirements. They are also alleged to have been party to the falsification of public documents for the purposes of financial enrichment and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Shelling It Out
Among those feeling the heat are two former presidents of Coljuegos, Rodrigo Vélez and Diego Rafael Pérez, who now manages the Bogota Lottery, as well as two former presidents of Coljuegos’ predecessor, Etesa.
“These arrests are the product of an exhaustive investigation that began in March 2016, following the findings of an audit. It was, ultimately, determined that these contracts were awarded through shell companies,” said Luis Gustavo Morenot, director of the Anti-Corruption Unit of the Attorney General.
“Twelve raids were carried out in the early hours of the morning by 250 police officers who traveled to different regions of the country, arresting officials and former officials of Coljuegos, and owners of casinos,” added Colonel Pablo Ruiz, director in charge of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation and Interpol.
Police Hook Lucky Ducks
The investigation centered around contracts awarded to Lucky Ducks, which operates several casinos in the Eje Cafetero region.
According to Colombian media, police seized 198 illegal slot machines from Lucky Ducks that had previously been seized in 2012 by gambling regulator Etesa. At that time, Etesa did not destroy the machines, as was required by law. Later that year, when Coljuegos took over the regulation of gambling in the area, it somehow agreed to give the illegal slots to Lucky Ducks as part of its licensing contract agreement.
Last October, the country passed its EGaming Act, legislation that licensed and regulated online gambling. Several weeks ago, Coljuegos asked Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications to block 325 online gambling domains it had blacklisted, including 888, Bet365, PokerStars, Unibet, and William Hill.