Six years’ jail for specialist who defrauded gaming company Betsson out of €153,000

The court sentenced a Dutch online gaming specialist to six years’ imprisonment and fined him €15,000 for fraud, money laundering and computer-related offences

The court was told that the company had calculated the man's ruse as having diverted €153,000 from their revenue
The court was told that the company had calculated the man's ruse as having diverted €153,000 from their revenue

A Dutch online gaming specialist will be going all-in on an appeal after he was jailed for six years, fined €15,000 and had all of his assets seized for pleading guilty to charges of fraud, money laundering and computer-related offences this morning.

Betsson key affiliate manager, Christiaan Alexander Van Dalen, 41, had been accused of using player details to create artificial website traffic in order to inflate his commission. In November 2015 Inspector Jonathan Ferris had arraigned Van Dalen under arrest, telling the court that police investigations had revealed that the accused had created websites for online casinos and was “retagging” players from Betsson under his name, thereby creating commission for himself. The funds would be deposited in what he called “electronic wallets”, from which they would be transferred to his wife’s HSBC accounts and the accused’s Netteller account.

The court was told that the company had calculated the man's ruse as having diverted €153,000 from their revenue. Around €35,000 were also transferred into a Filipino account held by his wife. The rest of the money was unaccounted for at the time of his arrest, although some of it appeared to have been used to purchase a property in the Philippines, the court was told during the man's arraignment.

Although Van Dalen had initially denied the charges, he yesterday filed a joint note with the Attorney General, admitting guilt in return for a reduction in sentence.

The law only requires the prosecution to prove that the accused either knew or suspected that the funds were of illegitimate origin, after which it was up to the defendant to prove his innocence.

In his sentence, magistrate Joe Mifsud noted that money laundering was one of the hardest offences to investigate, which was why the law shifted the onus of proof onto the person accused, who would then have to prove the legitimate provenance the funds in question. This inversion of the usual burden of proving guilt had not been introduced capriciously, however, the court said.

In cases of suspected money laundering, the prosecution had to prove a link between the funds and the so-called “predicate offence” from which they were obtained. However the Prevention of Money Laundering Act also provides that an absence of a conviction for the predicate offence did not preclude the finding of guilt in charges of money laundering from circumstantial or other evidence.

In view of his admission, the court sentenced Van Dalen to six years’ imprisonment and fined him €15,000, also ordering him to repay the money he had diverted from the betting company. All of the man's movable and immovable assets were also seized and made property of the government. The court recommended that the man's BMW be passed on to the police for use by the Anti Money Laundering Unit.

Van Dalen gave the court notice of appeal.