UKGC – Rank Group investigations show need for greater AML controls

grosvenorcasinoThe UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) wants UK operators to critically review the effectiveness of their policies and procedures with regards to anti-money laundering (AML) and customer protections.

The UKGC has urged operators for stricter reviews and practices following the completion of an investigation of AML policies at Rank Group subsidiaries Grosvenor Casinos and meccabingo.com, prompted by the conviction of money laundering by customer Da Feng Ding.

The Commission has investigated a separate case involving “Customer B”, a Rank meccabingo.com customer who is awaiting sentencing after recently pleading guilty to defrauding a six-figure sum from her employers.

As a result of the investigations, Rank Group has acknowledged serious shortcomings and failures to apply the lessons learnt from previous scrutiny. The Commission has agreed the operator’s remedial actions including a third party audit of its revised AML arrangements and the surrender of  an estimated £950,000 profits that resulted from these shortcomings, to be spent for agreed socially responsible purposes.

Rank Group is taking the following steps to address the shortcomings identified:

  • Undertaking a critical review of AML controls within the business, led by an external provider
  • Disseminating learning from the shortcomings identified through seminars or other forms of direct engagement with other operators
  • Divesting itself of  the gross profits made as a result of the shortcomings, and apply the substantial six-figure sum to agreed socially responsible purposes pay an amount to the Commission to cover the costs of the investigations.

UKGC’s key messages for the gambling industry relate to:

  • Monitoring whether appropriate and risk-sensitive policies and procedures relating to the prevention of money laundering and ensuring that people are not exploited or harmed by gambling are being followed effectively
  • Ensuring that operators manage the risk of money laundering by taking a range of measures, including a consideration of where the money a customer is gambling with comes from
  • Making sure that money laundering risks relating to established customers are monitored effectively on an ongoing basis
  • Ensuring that, where there is a suspicion that a customer may be committing money laundering offences, operators take an appropriate range of actions, including both making an appropriate disclosure to law enforcement agencies and reviewing whether to continue with the business relationship with the customer in question
  • Having a clear understanding on how to manage the risk of “tipping off” customers
  • Effective record keeping
  • Misplaced confidence in the effective implementation of policies and procedures.

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