Irish Criminals Launder Money Through Bookmakers in Absence of Regulator
Posted on: April 25, 2017, 02:00h.
Last updated on: April 25, 2017, 08:18h.
The Republic of Ireland’s lack of a bona fide gambling regulator is allowing criminals to launder and hide funds through bookmakers.
That’s the verdict of Fianna Fail politician Niall Collins, TD for Limerick county, who declared this week that money-laundering had become a “serious problem” in Ireland and that the absence of a regulatory body constituted a “glaring omission” from the country’s legislative statute.
“[It’s a problem] not just because of loss of revenue to the State but there is a huge issue with money laundering and criminality, with the proceeds of crime being laundered through unregulated bookmakers,” said Collins.
Betting companies are required to obtain a license from the Revenue Commissioners in order to be able to operate in Ireland, but there is no regulatory body to provide the usual checks and balances and ensure consumer protections.
Bookmakers themselves are required to lodge suspicious activity reports where they see fit in accordance with EU anti-money laundering directives, but a lack of strict government oversight renders the current system inadequate.
Gambling Bill Gone Missing
Ireland has been hoping to establish a regulatory body since 2013 when former Justice Minister Alan Shatter introduced the Gambling Control Act.
The legislation aimed, among other things, to update the existing Betting Act 1931, the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 and sections of the Finance Act 1992 to more efficiently encompass online gambling.
It would also sought to establish the Office of Gambling Control Ireland, a body regulating all betting activity in Ireland. But almost four years later, the legislation is still doing the rounds in the Oireachtas (Irish parliament).
“I would be calling on the government to dust down the bill that was introduced and get it back on the legislative agenda,” said Collins. “It would need to be improved with the changes to technology but you can deal with those issues after you establish the statutory body.”
Organized Crime Cleans Up
According to the Irish Mirror, thee have been several recent incidents of police finding evidence of criminals moving money through bookmakers.
A raid on an associate of the notorious Kinahan gang last year uncovered a betting slip worth €29,340. The Kinihans have been known to launder money by betting on fixed horse races.
This week it was reported that whoever was behind the murder of Baiba Saulite, a Latvian mother of two, may have paid for a hit in betting slips worth €62,000. Saulite was gunned down outside her home in 2006.
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