Late last year, after an anonymous tip-off, Slovakia’s national lottery headquarters suddenly found themselves at the centre of a major investigation by police.
The lottery promoter, Tipos, had been revealed to be more involved in money-laundering activities than in managing the lottery, and 30 law enforcement officials descended to the offices to unravel the mystery. Police took away in handcuffs Tipos CEO Ján Barczi and IT director Miloš Prelec, accused of money laundering and other crimes. Those allegations have now been confirmed as Barczi is making his first court appearance.
According to the Slovak media outlet Aktuality.sk, the prosecutor’s office charged the two with “breach of duty in the administration of foreign property and legalisation of the proceeds of crime.” However, just one day after their arrest, the Pezinok Specialized Criminal Court ruled that there was not enough proof of any crimes for them to be held in jaill. ⠀
The lawyer took his case to a judge, who decided later, ordering both to remain in detention. Barczi and Prelec were sent off to separate prisons to wait for sentencing, in an effort to avoid any attempts at collaboration. The prosecutor’s office had argued that they might attempt to influence witnesses and exploit the case should they be allowed to roam the streets, the Judge agreed.
Tipos offers everything from online lotteries to casino games, and more. The anonymous tip that authorities have supposedly received came years earlier, with Barczi and Prelec allegedly engaged in their off – the-book operations from as early as 2012. In 2018, the company started shutting down user accounts that it said were linked to possible money laundering activity, placing a figure of as much as $26 million through the accounts having been funnelled. Barczi had allegedly worked to prevent the activity from being investigated internally.
The maximum sentence if found guilty would most likely be 15 years behind bars. This was another explanation that the prosecutor’s office wanted the pair to remain locked up, arguing that if not imprisoned, they could try to flee the country.
As for Tipos, which is managed by the Finance Ministry of Slovakia, Barczi will be nothing more than a footnote in its memoirs. He has been completely stripped, whether guilty or not, of any association with the organisation. Tipos is pushing forward and looking to put the drama behind it as the nation seeks to expand its market for legal online gambling.