The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has sanctioned of £1.8 million fine and licence warning to London casino operator Silverbond Enterprises Ltd in relation to social responsibility failures and money laundering violations.
Silverbond is the operating company of the ‘Park Lane Club’ casino in Mayfair a property which the UKGC has placed under review since February 2016, under section 116 of the Gambling Act.
Carrying out licence inspections during 2018, the UKGC reports that its investigation found that Park Lane Club has failed to undertake ‘enhanced due diligence – EDD’ checks on its ‘top 250 customers’, breaching licensing provisions on AML operator responsibilities.
Following warnings to Silverbond management, the UKGC reveals that the London casino had failed to implement effective EDD processes on its customers, relying on insufficient open source third party systems to verify patrons.
Further concerns relayed on the UKGC’s executive summary, details that Silverbond had failed to upkeep detailed records of Park Lane Club’s customer engagements, failing to meet Licensee requirements on ‘source-of-funds (SOF)’ and ‘source-of-wealth (SOW)’ due diligence.
“Analysis of customer accounts held by the casino established a number of undated entries made by the Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) on customer profiles requesting additional EDD, Source of Funds (SOF) or Source of Wealth (SOW) checks to be conducted. Retaining accurate records is a requirement of the ML regulations.” – The UKGC details with regards to Park Lane Club AML failures
In relation to Social Responsibility failures, Silverbond is charged with failure to identify problem gambling behaviours, which included a customer ‘threatening staff and damaging property’ and customers requesting to increase maximum funds allowed by Cheque cashing facilities.
The UKGC notes that Park Lane Club had interacted with customers but had failed to document incidents or try to establish whether customers were suffering or vulnerable to gambling-related harms.
“Social responsibility failings included not recognising the indicators of potential problem gambling such as a customer displaying violent behaviour which included threatening staff and damaging of property, a customer asking for his winnings to be transferred to his personal bank account to prevent him playing further, and a customer of the casino asking to increase the maximum amount that could be deposited by cheque.” The UKGC details in its case notes.
Concluding its investigation, the UKGC has sanctioned formal warnings on two Silverbond senior management officers for failing to meet standards set by UK gambling’s ‘Personal Management Licence’ (PML) conditions.
The Park Lane Club casino hit national headlines last year, following a Ukrainian corruption probe, which saw the accounts and holdings of Silverbond owner Vassilijs Melniks withheld by Ukrainian authorities.
Latvian businessman Melniks faced accusations of embezzling and laundering €55 million, in connection with the management of Ukrainian state-owned energy supplier Naftogaz, which would see Silverbond’s owner personally questioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)