UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Aide Placed Possibly Criminal Bet on July Election

Posted on: June 13, 2024, 08:19h. 

Last updated on: June 13, 2024, 09:53h.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s closest aide placed a £100 ($US128) bet on a July election happening just days before the leader made the surprise announcement that Brits would indeed be heading to the polls next month, The Guardian has discovered.

Craig Williams, bet, Rishi Sunak, Conservative Party, general election
Rishi Sunak, left, is expected to lose the July 4 UK general election, but that didn’t stop his right-hand man, Craig Williams, right, from using insider information to place a potentially fraudulent bet. (Image: County Times)

Craig Williams, the prime minister’s parliamentary private secretary, placed the bet online via the Ladbrokes sports betting platform at odds of 5-1. It immediately triggered a red flag because of Williams’ status as a “politically exposed person.”

Under anti-money laundering regulations, operators must pay close attention to politicians who use their services. That’s because lawmakers carry a greater risk of involvement in bribery or corruption, and therefore money laundering.

Williams would have had to provide personal information when he opened the account, including his date of birth and a copy of a photo ID. Ladbrokes would also have been aware of the location of the bet

UKGC Probe

The operator passed the case on to the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), which launched an investigation, according to The Guardian. Betting with insider information could be a criminal offense.

“I’ve been contacted by a journalist about Gambling Commission inquiries into one of my accounts and thought it best to be totally transparent,” Williams said in a statement after he was approached for comment by The Guardian.

I put a flutter [wager] on the general election some weeks ago. This has resulted in some routine inquiries, and I confirm I will fully cooperate with these. I don’t want it to be a distraction from the campaign, I should have thought how it looks,” he added.

Although illegal in the US, prop bets on political events are permitted in the UK. US regulators are also disinclined to allow bets that could be manipulated by individuals, or where a small group of people may be party to information not known to the wider public.

For the same reason, UK operators are hyper-vigilant around prop markets. Sportsbooks will generally cap stakes, and markets are routinely suspended when suspicious bets are flagged.

Change of Government Highly Likely

Sunak called the “snap” general election unexpectedly on Wednesday, May 22. The decision was surprising because his Conservative Party has been trailing in the polls since the start of 2022.

A snap election is one called earlier than expected or when it’s not compulsory. It’s usually used as a tactic by an incumbent administration to exploit weakness in the opposition. However, the Conservative Party is expected to be soundly beaten come the July 4 vote.

Bookmaker Paddy Power has odds of a Labour Party victory at 1/200, an implied probability of 99.5%.

Labour MP Jonathan Ashworth described the allegations against Williams as “utterly extraordinary.”

“Rishi Sunak has sat on this information for more than a week but has lacked any backbone to take action. Once again Rishi Sunak has been exposed as utterly weak,” he added.