The links that emerged last week between Maltese companies and money-laundering by the Mafia are not the end of the story, industry insiders have warned.

Six Maltese companies had their assets seized last Wednesday after the Italian police swooped on illegal gaming activities linked to the Calabrian mafia ‘Ndrangheta, following an international operation.

Three gaming licences linked to two of the companies – Uniq Group (Betuniq) and Betsolution4u – were withdrawn by the Malta Gaming Authority after the news emerged. 

Industry insiders said the people involved have been known to the authorities for a long time.

“The Maltese authorities are trying to catch up with what the Italian police are revealing from an investigation that has been going on for many years. It’s not the end of the story in terms of the involvement of Malta-based companies,” the industry expert told The Sunday Times of Malta.

Mario Gennaro, the alleged mastermind behind the mafia scheme to use gaming companies for money laundering, had been monitored by the Italian police for a number of years, which was why he ended up in Malta, sources said.

He set up the holding company Uniq Group in December 2010, according to Malta Financial Services Authority records. At the time, Mr Gennaro could not even open a bank account, the source explained, so he would pay everything in cash, a move which drew attention.

Yet, the authorities handed Mr Gennaro a second gaming licence two years later. The Italian police identified companies Uniq Group, Uniq Shopping, Tebaral Holding, Tebaral Trading, Betsolution4U and Fast Run Limited as part of the network linked to the organised crime syndicate. Fast Run was established only last January. 

More in The Sunday Times of Malta and the e-paper on Premium.

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