Malta, contrary to its image of being lenient with gambling operators has slapped a local company with a massive €2.34 million fine for offering gambling products without securing necessary permissions to do so.
In an announcement on Thursday, the Malta Gaming Authority(MGA) announced that Blackrock Media Ltd had paid €2.34 million in penalty. The fine was collected after the MGA and Blackrock made a settlement for “operating a gaming service through a Maltese legal entity without being in possession of the necessary authorization.”
In the announcement, the MGA also said that the country’s executive police had found that the company was “processing payments to and from players as part of a gaming service which was never duly authorized.”
Blackrock Media is reportedly owned by Dutch firm Blackrock Entertainment N.V. Following the gambling regulator’s announcement, Malta’s Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services Silvio Schembri issued a statement and quickly termed the fine as Malta being strict vigilant against all forms of unauthorized gambling.
Schembri in his statement said that the huge penalty on Blackrock is a testimony of the fact that the Maltese government is committed to ensuring compliance and tackling money laundering and terrorist financing.
Malta Infamous As Gambling Tax Haven
The urgency for the Secretary for Financial Services to pat the government’s back and score brownie points can be understood from the fact that Malta has developed an image for being a gambling tax haven.
Maltese Authorities and the government have been criticized for being lax in implementing anti-money laundering measures.
Last year in September, Moneyval, which is a prominent Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, had chided Malta for not doing enough to curb money laundering activities.
The authority had asked Malta to up its game in tightening the noose around syndicates involved in financial crimes.
Moreover, the UK Gambling Commission chief had also slammed the Malta Gaming Commission and said that the majority of the gambling operators that fail to comply with the gambling regulations in the UK are headquartered in Malta.