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Wirecard Reportedly Processed Payments for Mafia-linked Online Casino in Malta

Tags: CenturionBet, fintech, mafia, Malta, Ndrangheta, Wirecard.
Posted on 04 August 2020 by "T".

An online casino in Malta run by 'Ndrangheta, one of Europe's most dangerous mafia organizations, apparently had its payments processed by Wirecard right up to 2017, according to the Financial Times.

The revenues from CenturionBet, whose gaming license was suspended by the Malta Gaming Authority in 2017, comprised only a small fraction of Wirecard's worldwide operations. However the discovery raised several questions about the business model of the German company that was "once lauded as a pioneer of European fintech".

CenturionBet was a gaming company based in Malta that was used by organized criminals to transfer cash out of the country in a money laundering operation. It took a while before the MGA regulators suspended the online gambling license of CenturionBet Ltd, which operates the Bet1128 brand, despite having already been notified about the company's criminal ties from the reports by the Italy-based IRPI on the criminal involvement of an 'Ndrangheta group from Calabria.

Wirecard continued to engage in business with CenturionBet, which was incorporated in Malta but was actually owned by a Panama shell company, up until 2017 when its gaming license was suspended by MGA and it ceased trading altogether after an anti-mafia raid saw 68 people arrested. Since then over 30 individuals have been sentenced for mafia-related crimes linked to this case.

According to internal documents witnessed by the Financial Times, Wirecard also processed payments for another bigger Maltese gambling company that has been named by the Italian authorities as having laundered money for organized crime groups in cases that are still under investigation.

A former Wirecard employee recalled that after media reports of mafia links at the bigger Maltese gambling company were out, a compliance review was done but the company passed on the basis of assurances provided. Wirecard refused to comment.

As a result of this scandal, Wirecard went from being Germany's biggest publicly listed companies worth over €24 billion to admitting in June 2020 that several major parts of its operations were likely to be fictional. Since then its former chief executive has been arrested in Germany on fraud charges.

Investigating CenturionBet
Based on the investigation of Italy's finance police, CenturionBet (through the services of Francesco Martiradonna), had given complete access to its online system to the Kroton Games company, which has connections to the 'Ndrangheta's Arena clan, for the purpose of transferring huge wads of cash.

When media first reported the connection between Bet1128 and the Sacra Corona Unita (Puglia's organized crime syndicate), the Maltese regulator had reiterated it was unable to act immediately to speculations only and so it was unable to prevent the establishment of an alleged mafia-related business concern.

Bet1128 was originally owned by the Martiradonna family before its gaming franchise was moved from the UK to Malta in 2009, so that the company assets would not be seized by a police investigation.

The members of the Martiradonna family later acquired residence permits in Malta and brought their UK-based gaming franchise into Malta through the help of associates.

The family's partriarch Vito Martiradonna, formerly investigated by Bari's anti-mafia police in 2009's Operation Domino, was sentenced in 2007 for three years and four months behind bars for being associated with the mafia, mainly for his role as a cashier for the Sacra Corona Unita.

By moving the franchise of Bet1128 to Malta, the Martiradonna family avoided the confiscation of its British assets when the November 2009 Operation Domino began closing in on them. Martiradonna and his two sons Francesco and Michele were arrested a month later on fraudulent transfer charges, but were later acquitted in 2012.

In November 2009, the British company Paradise Bet sold Bet1128 and 11 other assets to CenturionBet in Malta. According to phone conversations that the Italian police intercepted, Francesco Martiradonna repeatedly discussed about moving Paradise Bet's assets to Malta.

Wirecard's CEO Markus Braun has already been arrested and is going to stand trial for his egregious mismanagement of the company. Chief Operating Officer January Marsalek is being sought by police but has disappeared. Rumors say he might have been a spy, perhaps for the Russian government, which could lead to the assumption he has been recalled for his own protection, or worse.

CenturionBet Ltd had, at one point in 2009 used the services of MGA's former legal and enforcement director, the lawyer Anthony Axisa, as its director.

Fabio Maggesi, Bet1128's attorney, said that the MGA had its operation in good standing, and described Bet1128 as "a solid brand that is fully in line with Maltese and European laws."



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26 comments on "Wirecard Reportedly Processed Payments for Mafia-linked Online Casino in Malta"

Displaying only the 25 latest comments. To view all comments, please visit the forum thread:
» Wirecard Reportedly Processed Payments for Mafia-linked Online Casino in Malta

 antonis32104/08/2020 18:39:37 GMT
So , they were helping this business of this mafia crime family , with the money laundering at Malta ?? Wow , even in the 20th centrury mafia families and patriarchs have influence and launder their money from dirty businesses , extortions and thefts . It's good they have arrested many and convicted some of this familymembers or criminals , now it's time for punishment for everyone , mafia or the ones that have helped them in the past
 maragatero05/08/2020 01:06:11 GMT
Mafi be involved in a business to laundry black money by a Casino? No, no, no...I can´t believe it! hahaha. And in the XXI century using the technology to improve their corporate business? What a discovery! Surely, the special agents it must have taken a long time to get to that conclusion hahaha. Some news may be really funny. Perhaps it wait that we were astonished!
 CALICUL05/08/2020 08:07:51 GMT
I left some comments in the past and i was saying that there in this industry are some casinos, poker rooms or other sites where money laundering is practiced. When make money want more and ally with illegal businessmen to launder their money.
 dule-vu05/08/2020 16:07:16 GMT
Its strange how they need so much time to find things like this!if they have people who work for goverment who follow thing like this,then they should find this before!they know what people do and how they invest money!
 antonis32105/08/2020 19:45:56 GMT
This reminds me so much the Godfather , lol , when they decided to turn to casinos and hotels , so as to have legal businesses or launder better some money from other businesses , lol . Mafias have the support or tolerance of the police in most of tthe cases , that's why they keep on doing what they do . But when police doesn't need them , or they want to reduce their power , they strike their businesses , cut some income of them , reduce their power . But the big family members are out , to continue their businesses . Happened in the past centuries , sad tto see it happening even now ..
 CALICUL06/08/2020 08:54:03 GMT
Italian mafia is very active all over the world and their power is not to be neglected. They make billions of euros in every year. In America, they were challenged by their Russian competitors but managed to resist very well.
 antonis32106/08/2020 21:42:53 GMT
I hope police finds the rest of the guys , who are responsible for all of this , and punish them to give an example , to all others who might do the same with criminal organizations and their money laundring businesses . They caught some of these criminals , some were convicted , not i read about this CEO who got arrested , and one more from this company who is on the run , avoiding the arrest . Hope they caught them all .
 CALICUL07/08/2020 09:25:51 GMT
Police are looking for large cases that can no longer be hidden by evasionists or money launderers. Sometimes others are left unpunished. Large or small companies are checked and tried, but others are not even arrested like little Duck Poker.
 antonis32107/08/2020 23:50:31 GMT
These mafia or crime organisations find it very easy to steal or earn money , a tone of money from illegal activities , drugs , extortions , killings . Their only problem is how to legalise this money , how to appear their source is legal . Some ways there are , people can be used for this purpose , banks , also casinos as profits by laying games on them , or if you direct and run a casino , hen way far easier to legalise . or a miney institution , knowing the right men in the right places to help you , ofcourse for a big reward . Thankfully , sometimes they catch these criminals , they destroy their laundering circle .
 CALICUL08/08/2020 09:25:52 GMT
Italian mafia has control in many countries and when they evade tax or launder money... it makes healthy economy in those places to become sick. It causes damage at local or national level and then the authorities take action.
 dule-vu09/08/2020 13:41:52 GMT
everything that is close to italy or have something with italy,you know that is strange that you will have people who will invest money in some business like this,that they will try to launder money and then to spend or invest in something more!we all know how they earn money and what they do in life!
 CALICUL11/08/2020 06:06:27 GMT
When they are caught with money laundering and tax evasion all found assets or money must be confiscated. After that judge by system, punished & banned for 30 years to work in that country. Heavy punishments will make many seek legality.
 dule-vu11/08/2020 09:21:42 GMT
I am sorry that somebody got offended with my post,but will know who "invented" mafia and where all started,but ok!they work with everything and they dont care what it is,they just want to earn money!ofcourse they will invest money in buildings,in casinos in everything that goverment will have problems to follow them!
 CALICUL12/08/2020 06:13:25 GMT
Mafia always tries to fool systems of many countries, because they make money until authorities wake up and after that they transfer illegally to other parts of world and damaged parts can no longer recover damages that can not be found...
 antonis32113/08/2020 07:17:53 GMT
These news remind me of early decades of the 20th century , lol . Crime organisations , mafia style ,which control directly or indirectly businesses , like casinos , to legalise their dirty money .Not good news for the casino industry , they create a false image and picture for the casinos , although the greatest majority of them , I would say 99% or more nowadays ,are legal businesses of rich businessman , offering chances for entertainment and big wins . This mafia story is so retro , lol
 dule-vu13/08/2020 12:06:12 GMT
maybe its retro,but you know that mafia will always take chance to invest money in something,if they can earn something from it or just to launder money from bad business!no matter that in todays world,where they can track everything,from smartphones to mail-s and other things,mafia will still do thing kind of things!
 CALICUL14/08/2020 07:04:36 GMT
Mafia is in most countries on this planet and tax fraud or evasion is always done. Governments themselves are to blame for this, because they demand taxes and duties much too big. When you are modest as an authority of a country, then people are legal. Illegal it multiplies when taxation authorities ask for a lot of money from businessmen.
 antonis32114/08/2020 09:04:10 GMT
Ofcourse dule vu , these mafia families and their dirty businesses , as well as their attempts to legalise their activities or launder their winnings , is not sth new , it always has been in the newspapers all the previous decades , many raids by police forces in all over the world , not just sicely , lol .In the past these organisations were far too many , now they are much fewer , police doesn't tolerate them as they used to do in the 20th century Blink
 CALICUL15/08/2020 07:26:04 GMT
No one can finally get rid of Italian mafia if politicians of some countries where they have business do not take actions. They have great power, influence, are very smart, very often certain things or even their business are confiscated, but have already made too much profit, so that losses are easily supported.
 dule-vu15/08/2020 16:19:41 GMT
yes antonis,but mafia is always one step in front of police and this kind of services,so till they see what they are doing,mafia already made good amount of money!they always think how to make some new business,that police dont know!but this things with investing money in casinos,bulidings isnt something new,its for decades!
 antonis32115/08/2020 19:35:09 GMT
dule vu , mafia is one step in front of police , cause many times they have insiders in the police force , informers , some of their own people , who disgrace their police oath , just for some more money in their monthly salary , nothing new , this is being done in many crimes and crime organizations , thy don't need to be as ruthless or as powerfull as mafia families , even small illegal or crime businesses might have some police oficers to help them Smile
 CALICUL16/08/2020 07:51:03 GMT
Mafia loves onerous business. Their organizations are ready to take advantage of weaknesses of the institutions.They organize themselves very well and make money even in times of crisis. Have a school of their own where learn many things.
 dule-vu16/08/2020 17:28:13 GMT
antonis not just because they have people and have informations from inside,also they test new technologies,programs,devices that police dont use and still dont know anything about them,so thats why they are in front of them!but ofcourse they will always have people in police!
 antonis32117/08/2020 05:55:52 GMT
Best is to have a police insider or a device to listen to police radio , lol , when they will do a raid , an operation to catch some criminals (you know , cause some seats in prisons suddenly are for vacancy after the release of some prisoners , lol) , I have seen this in some movies , the use of police radio . I also remember on this internet cafe , very few times somebody came and said everything closes , and pc slot games were stopped , the slot customers were leaving at once , lol , I was feeling so awkward , especially if I were the only one after midnight playing on the internet . Plus the suspiousness they were looking at every customer who was coming manytimes , especially at the beginning , later not so much . Anyway , it's not only mafia ,many organisations try to launder money from illegal activities , and police insiders are always a great helping hand .
 CALICUL17/08/2020 07:52:10 GMT
it is good for mafia when it has representatives of law on their side, but it is not good for economy of that area, city or even a country, depending on how big their business is. It is important that bad businessmen to operate legally and taxes are acceptable for all.

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