Following Italy’s “Operation Galaxy,” which resulted in the seizure of €400 million ($433 million) in assets linked to organized crime, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has vehemently denied any connection to the criminal mastermind behind the illegal gambling ring. The MGA issued an official statement, stating it would continue to cooperate with authorities and closely monitor the case.

The ongoing probe, Operation Galaxy, uncovered a criminal scheme involving online gaming services facilitated through Malta-registered companies. The investigation revealed that the previously unnamed kingpin behind the illegal gambling ring was Antonio Ricci, an Italian in his late 40s, who allegedly held a prominent management position at a licensed iGaming company.

Ricci, who had been arrested by Maltese police in April 2019 on charges of money laundering, resided in Malta since at least 2010. Following legal battles, he was deported to Italy and is currently restricted to his town of residence, forbidden from leaving, according to police reports.

Italian police seized approximately €400 million in assets linked to three connected iGaming companies with ties to Ricci. Initial reports suggested that Ricci was directly involved with at least one of these businesses, using it as a front to launder significant sums obtained from illegal gambling rings across Europe.

Operation Galaxy also uncovered that Ricci’s organization projected its influence abroad through companies with offices in several European jurisdictions, avoiding detection by transferring most proceeds from illegal activities abroad and evading Italian tax authorities. The MGA swiftly addressed the implications of the case and its proliferation across Italian and international media, clarifying on Friday that Ricci had no association with any iGaming company licensed by the MGA. The regulator insisted that it maintained close contact with local and international authorities and would closely monitor any further developments.

The Authority clarified in a statement that “the individual being named at the center of the operation… does not, in any capacity, form part of the ownership structures of any gaming company that is licensed by the MGA.”

The MGA’s swift clarification underscores its commitment to ensuring the integrity of its licensed operators and dissociating from any connections with criminal elements. As the investigation unfolds, regulatory bodies like the MGA must remain vigilant in upholding the credibility of the gambling industry and fostering a secure environment for operators and players.

By admin