Mexico’s Big Bola Casino Chain Owners Face Money Laundering Allegations
Posted on: May 25, 2022, 05:45h.
Last updated on: May 25, 2022, 10:55h.
Big Bola, a company that operates casinos in Mexico, is facing allegations it facilitates money laundering. This has led to authorities freezing certain bank accounts as legal issues mount.
Mexico’s National Banking and Securities Commission (CNBV, for its Spanish acronym) ordered the blocking of 55 bank accounts of the casino chain. For various reasons, from 2012 until now, federal authorities have investigated brothers Óscar y Francisco and Javier Rodríguez Borgio, owners of Big Bola. Among these are alleged money laundering in their casinos, the sale of adulterated fuel at their gas stations, and the irregular sale of the Gallos de Querétaro soccer team.
In this new move by the CNBV, Comercial de Juegos de la Frontera, Big Bola’s corporate entity, tried to challenge the blockade. However, a judge rejected the request. The freeze may have already been lifted. Unconfirmed reports by Big Bola in comments to media outlet Luces Del Siglo this week indicate that the company now has access to the accounts.
Hung Up in Controversy
Big Bola operates 20 casinos in the states of Sinaloa, Estado de México, Veracruz, Campeche, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Puebla, Sonora, and Mexico City. It also has had an online gambling site since 2016.
Recently, the platform went offline for unexplained reasons, although Mexico’s gaming regulator allegedly shut it down. However, the site later returned to normalcy.
Since July 2021, the Financial Intelligence Unit (UIF, for its Spanish acronym) had already included Francisco Javier on its list of blocked persons as part of an investigation for alleged money laundering.
In addition, in May 2018, the Tax Administration Service (SAT, for its Spanish acronym) fined Big Bola MEX$591 million (US$29.76 million) for omitting the payment of MEX$144 million (US$7.25 million) of a special benefit on bets. It also allegedly neglected to include benefits to the Ministry of the Interior during the year 2014.
That year, Big Bola announced that it was negotiating with the SAT for payment. However, the seizure of accounts is one of the means by which the treasury can collect debts.
In the most recent blockade against Big Bola, the judge did not clarify whether the blockade was a request by the UIF, the SAT, or by some other authority.
A Pattern of Irregularities
In addition, the Attorney General’s Office has also investigated the businessmen for the sale of stolen fuel to Pemex pipelines. They allegedly sold the fuel at gas stations in the north of the country. They allegedly laundered the profits through a bank which later folded.
At the end of October 2020, the magazine Proceso published an article stating that there was an investigation in Spain against Francisco Javier. He was allegedly behind a conspiracy to assassinate José Guillermo Martínez Cárdenas and Lorenzo Sánchez Hidalgo, two Spanish businessmen.
The two Spaniards have a sordid past of their own. They allegedly tried to pull a scam on Francisco Javier during the sale of property in Mexico. Interpol later arrested Martínez Cárdenas as part of a larger real estate investment fraud involving the same Mexican property.
The assassination plan, if it existed, fizzled. However, according to media reports at the time, an individual with first-hand knowledge of the plan was going to testify in the case. The individual was allegedly part of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Later, that individual disappeared. Subsequently, allegations surfaced that the individual received money in return for lies and slander against the Rodríguez Borgio brothers. The assassination conspiracy was allegedly one of the fabricated stories.