Rogue Italian gaming companies threaten to sue Gaming Authority

Lawyers representing companies which had their licences suspended include PN deputy leader Mario de Marco • Mafia's point-man who ran a money laundering operation through a network of remote gaming compnies had already been flagged in 2011. 

Three Italian companies which have had their licences suspended by the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) after being accused of having links to the Calabrian mafia ‘Ndrangheta are threatening to sue the Malta Gaming Authority for millions of euros in damages.

In July, the MGA suspended six gaming licences after the Italian police busted the Calabrian mafia’s base in Malta from where they set up ran a network of remote gaming companies alleged to be involved in money laundering. The companies were Tebaral Holding, Teberal Trading, Fast Run Limited, Uniq Group Limited (Betuniq), Betsolution4U Ltd, and Uniq Shopping.

All companies had their assets seized as part of the major clamp-down. Further companies, including Fenplay Limited, were suspended by the MGA over connections with the ‘Ndranghete betting network.

MaltaToday on Sunday reported that three of the companies – Uniq Group Limited (Betuniq), Betsolution4U Ltd, and FenPlay - are challenging the decision and are holding the gaming authority liable for any damage the companies will suffer as a consequence of the suspension. Its lawyers are said to be threatening to sue for millions if the investigation yields no results.

FenPlay is represented by PN deputy leader Mario de Marco and Gianella de Marco, Uniq Group Limited is represented by Ian Refalo and Joe Giglio while Betsolution4U Ltd is represented by Roberto Montalto.

In July, six Italian men – including Mario Gennaro, the Italian man who ran the money laundering operation in Malta through a network of remote gaming companies – were extradited after police acted on a European Arrest Warrant. The others were Margherita Giudetti, 34, Francesco Ripepi, 38, Alessandro Ciaffi, 40, Rocco Ripepi, 36 and Fortunato Stracuzzi, 37. The men were connected to the Betuniq brand.

MaltaToday reported that Gennaro registered a company in Malta – Betuniq – which controlled 1,500 gaming and betting agencies spread all over the Italian territory. The Italian media described the operation as an “economic power of gigantic proportions.”

But despite Gennaro having already been outed as an associate of the Tegano clan, or ‘ndrina, neither the Malta Gaming Authority nor GVM Holdings – the company that gave the Betuniq group fiduciary services to hide their owners’ identities – flagged the criminal elements funnelling millions through Malta’s remote gaming industry.

Notwithstanding this, the MGA have stood by its “rigorous” due diligence checks, arguing that the gaming companies that had their licences withdrawn did not raise any red flags. The checks were done by the MGA and GVM Holdings, the local firm providing them with fiduciary services whose director was identified as being David Gonzi – the son of former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi.