Further arrests in Bubble Group saga

By Emma Rumney
An unnamed 49-year-old lawyer has been arrested and held in custody for two weeks for her suspected involvement in an illegal gambling business, money laundering, fraud and forgery.

This is the latest development in a year-long investigation following up on the same allegations against individuals connected to Bubble Group BV based in Eindhoven, Netherlands by Dutch prosecutors, gaming regulators and tax authorities. Bubble Group was the parent company of 3D slots developer Sheriff Gaming, who provided a variety of games to operators such as Bet365, BetClic, Betsson, Gala Coral, Microgaming, Unibet and more.

The investigation began in May 2013 when Dutch authorities raided Bubble Group's Eindhoven offices, as well as four other office locations, seizing assets amounting to millions of Euros including 80 residential and business properties and 20 vehicles. A number of gambling websites were shut down and 100 bank accounts were also frozen in the investigation which spanned across Spain, Belgium and Germany.

Gaming industry media quote Dutch police as saying up to €110m could have been laundered through a complex network of companies including illegal gambling sites, and further accusations were made about the dealing of 'soft drugs'.

Regulators the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) then suspended the firm's license in September. Bubble Group, who held a B2B foreign gambling associate certificate, requested a regulatory hearing with the AGCC, claiming they were told by the District Attorney their games were legal. A closed-door hearing took place in October, but the suspension was upheld.

By November, Bubble Group CEO Stijn Flapper, brothers Michel and Maurice Gregoire and a 60-year-old man alleged to be the trio's financial advisor had been arrested and later appeared in court.

During February the men were denied bail, Bubble Group were declared bankrupt in court and the AGCC revoked their licence, stating it was "no longer fit and proper" for them to hold a certificate.

While Sheriff Gaming were never under investigation they were affected by the loss of funds, and after Bubble Group’s licence revocation a group of Sheriff developers formed independent Blue Gem Gaming in order to continue producing games.

The most recent developments saw the unidentified lawyer's home and office searched, while a 39-year-old from Amsterdam was also arrested on suspicion of continuing to operate the websites under investigation after Flapper had been arrested.

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