Slovakia’s state-run gaming company Tipos is under investigation after having their offices searched and their director arrested on suspicion of money laundering.
Around 30 Slovak National Criminal Agency (NAKA) leaders marched on Tipos’ Bratislava headquarters on Tuesday, leaving with handcuffed company director Ján Barczi and IT manager Miloš Prelec. It is reported that the pair will face a Friday custody hearing to determine their immediate fate.
Local media reported that the pair will face charges of “violations of obligations in the administration of foreign property and legalisation of income from crime.” Neither Tipos nor the Ministry of Finance has yet to make any statement regarding the accusations or who operates the ship after the two execs have been detained.
NAKA reportedly acted on a tip that Tiplos’ online accounts were used for money laundering. Reportedly, money of questionable origin was deposited into inactive Tipos accounts and then transferred to private bank accounts without any gambling operation taking place.
The activity was reportedly going on for years before NAKA got its tip-off, although local media suggested that the total volume of laundered funds was only about € 500k. NAKA continues to examine whether the execs arrested simply ignored the operation or gained from it directly.
In April 2018, on suspicion of money laundering, Tipos closed 142 player accounts. At the time, the company claimed that the total amount laundered by these accounts was € 260k, while other reports claimed that the number was close to € 20 m. An anonymous source charged Barczi with interfering with this activity’s internal investigation.
NAKA was also reportedly involved in Barczi’s hiring of an unknown assistant allegedly facilitating the suspicious financial transfers. It is also said that several contracts of a dubious nature entered into by Tipos are under the microscope of NAKA.
Tipos, through its etipos.sk site, offers online lottery, sports betting, casino and poker products. Slovakia’s legislature approved plans in December 2018 to open up the country’s online gambling market to private operators, only to have President Andrej Kiska veto the new Gambling Act because of concerns about insufficient consumer and data protection. A second parliamentary vote later overruled this veto.
Slovakia’s liberalised online gambling market was originally launched on July 1, 2020. Would-be applicants whose domains appear on the online gambling blacklist of the country were told that they would have to hold out for 12 months before their applications could be submitted.