Ukraine’s Economic Security Bureau Seizes €17m From A Gambling Operator

The gambling scene in Ukraine was completely shaken recently as detectives from the Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine (ESBU) announced that they have seized €17 million euros from an unnamed operator.

In total, the gambling operator is accused of evasion of around €29.6 million in taxes, with a group of employees in the company accused of organizing unlicensed online gambling activities.

The Scheme

The ESBU said that the employees used over 30 mirror websites with similar user interfaces to the online casino in question and misdirected payments. All that led to a tax evasion scheme of a record-high scale.

In addition, the detectives found that the gambling license was not found at the address set in the license obtained by the Ukrainian Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries. 

What is more, officials from the operator deliberately concealed evidence – documents necessary for a thorough investigation of the crime in question.

Therefore, the ESBU seized around €17 million that was found in the company’s bank accounts, with the investigation still ongoing.

No Official Confirmation on the Site’s Name

Arguably the most intriguing part of the entire investigation for the public is that the Bureau stopped short of naming the operator.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t long before reports started to flood in. According to numerous highly reputable local news anchors, the company involved is named Cosmolot.

According to those reports, Cosmolot has already started its defence, stating that the charges are completely groundless and they have already filed a complaint to the court. 

An unnamed source from the company was quoted as saying Cosmolot operates exclusively on the basis of the official license, nothing more.

Doubling Down on Illegal Gambling via Changes in Legislation

This is a case that marks the freshest attempt of Ukraine’s authorities to stop illegal gambling in the country. Just last year, new laws were introduced that covered various sectors of online gambling.

As such, one of the new regulations specifies the procedures for organizations subject to AML and CTF. In short, this new law means that operators in Ukraine face more rigorous inspections.

Shortly after that, the Ukrainian government proposed that banks should not be allowed to lend money to self-excluded casino players. According to this proposal, lenders must carry out extended checks and be selective when lending money to residents.

That is not all, as the future of KRAIL – Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries, is in the balance, as of now.

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