Gala Coral admits to money-laundering failure, costing the operator £850,000+

By David Cook
Gala Coral has voluntarily opted to pay a settlement of over £846,000 to the victim of a theft, after it was concluded that the stolen money was laundered through Coral brands.

The operator said that law enforcement agencies notified it of the conviction for theft of a Gala Coral customer that had pleaded guilty to stealing £800,000 from a vulnerable adult and the police concluded that funds from the theft had been used to gamble with two Gala Coral brands, Coral Racing and Coral Interactive, and the sum of £846,664 will be paid back to the victim.

The customer began playing with Gala Coral 2012 and was an online customer between January 2014 and January 2015.

Both Gala Coral’s retail and online VIP teams believed the customer was an electrician and from a wealthy family, but could not provide evidence of wealth.

The disparity between the customer’s spend and lifestyle were noticed in the months prior to his account being closed.

A number of serious historical weaknesses with regards to anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility (SR) controls were found by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

“After considering the evidence, we found that Gala Coral Group had failed to meet its AML and SR obligations in a number of key areas,” Gala Coral said. “If Gala Coral Group had exercised its duties to monitor the customer from an AML or SR perspective, it is likely that he would have been identified as a customer of concern earlier and action taken to limit or prevent further gambling.

“The identified failings, however, had a wider reach than the customer’s particular case and demonstrated significant weaknesses in Gala Coral Group’s corporate AML and SR regimes at that time.”

The settlement was made to pre-empt a formal licence review and an additional £30,000 will be paid to UKGC.

Gala Coral will revise its AML and SR policies after admitting that its policies were not adequate.

UKGC programme director Richard Watson said: “We know that Gala Coral have reflected heavily on this case and have assured us of actions they have taken to address the failings. Operators must proactively monitor customers to keep gambling safe and free from crime.”

This comes after an investigation by UKGC found that Paddy Power failed to keep crime out of gambling and protect vulnerable people, relating to incidents with multiple customers, including one instance of failing to report an instance of money laundering.

The National Crime Agency reported that the gambling industry accounted for 2,459 suspicious activity reports between October 2014 and September 2015.
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