Italian law enforcement has seized three online gambling companies registered in Malta as part of the “Operation Galaxy” investigation into the ‘Ndrangheta mafia’s involvement in the island nation’s iGaming industry.
The companies are allegedly tied to Italian businessman Antonio Ricci, who officials believe built a network of online gambling companies that would funnel a portion of their profits to ‘Ndrangheta, which is based in Reggio Calabria, Italy, in exchange for protection, as well as assistance with promoting their brands. The illegal gambling group would, in turn, send collected funds to satellite locations overseas to dodge Italian taxes.
The estimated value of the confiscated assets is €400m.
Italian Guardia di Finanza, under the authorization of Direzione Investigativa Antimafia (DIA), carried out the seizures, which, in addition to the three unnamed gambling companies, include two Maltese trusts and their financial portfolios. The estimated value of the confiscated assets is €400m.
In the meantime, a court has issued a two-and-a-half-year Special Public Security Surveillance order on the 48-year-old Ricci, who is not allowed to leave Reggio Calabria. He had lived in Malta for a decade fighting extradition to Italy for other crimes before voluntarily returning to Italy in early 2020.
‘Ndrangheta connections to the Maltese gambling industry are not uncommon. In 2015, six suspected mafia members were extradited from Malta to Italy to face prosecution for their role in an online betting money laundering scheme. And in late 2023, over 200 members of ‘Ndrangheta were sentenced to a combined 2,200 in prison for a litany of crimes; they used online gambling companies to launder their money.
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