Malta Gaming Authority hits back at reported mafia links

Malta Gaming AuthorityThe Malta Gaming Authority is again the centre of attention after it was revealed a gambling company with links to the Mafia continues to operate despite having its license cancelled by the regulator.

This comes just days after the MGA was forced to defend its integrity after newspaper reports questioned how Europe’s biggest regulator does business.

Now Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI) has revealed Leaderbet continues to operate from Malta despite the MGA killing its accreditation in February.

The MGA has told local media that a police report had been filed against Leaderbet last month requesting an investigation into the rogue gambling company.

Several days ago the MGA responded in a statement to claims of it having links to the mafia, which reared their head in the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, La Repubblica and the Times of Malta.

“The MGA objects to the articles in question which contain factual inaccuracies, speculation, untruths and a misleading portrayal of the Malta Gaming Authority and the way it operates,” it read.

“The latest published articles refer to rehashed stories on which enforcement action has already been taken accordingly by the MGA.”

Among the various accusations levelled at the regulator was that they failed to cooperate with Italian authorities. A claim the MGA flatly denies.

“The MGA does not normally receive cooperation requests from Italian authorities other than its counterpart gambling regulator in Italy,” the statement read.

“Requests from law enforcement or financial intelligence units are sent to the corresponding authorities in Malta. Naturally, the MGA cooperates and provides any relevant information to the competent authorities when duly requested, or if the MGA deems that such information in its possession needs to be shared with the respective authorities.”

The MGA went on to say that “prevention of criminal infiltration” was at the top of the priority list, and pointed to the amount of license applications they reject on these grounds.

“With that said, if detection and prosecution of organised crime was easy, it would not exist in the first place,” the statement reads.

“The MGA takes lessons learnt on board, and sees its role also fulfilled when another regulator or law enforcement agency provides actionable information. This allows the MGA to take all necessary action to detect and prevent such criminal infiltration from continuing, and to assist with the eventual collection of evidence and prosecution.”

The MGA licences 100s of gambling sites with the regulator being the dominant force in the European gambling industry.