Belgium starts sanctions procedure against Betway football player

The Gaming Commission starts a sanction procedure against Betway, an international gambling company and the sponsor of the Belgian Cup and RSC Anderlecht. The file is passed on to the court, the anti-money laundering unit and the tax authorities.

Betway is also sponsoring the first division Anderlecht for three seasons. In addition, it entered into a partnership with the operator of the Brussels casino, Casinos Austria International Belgium.

'Lack of transparency'

After consultation with representatives of the six ministers at the helm of the Gaming Commission, it was decided today to start a sanction procedure against Betway. That confirms the spokesperson of the Gaming Commission Marjolein De Paepe.

'The committee starts a sanction procedure because of the cumulative license and the lack of transparency. In addition, the findings of the Gaming Commission will be communicated to the public prosecutor, the anti-money laundering unit and the Special Tax Inspectorate (BBI). '

The Gaming Commission took action after De Tijd wrote with Knack and Le Soir in November 2017 about the dark construction behind Betway. That happened on the basis of the Paradise Papers, millions of documents that had been leaked from tax havens and that we investigated together with the international consortium of investigative journalists ICIJ and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. We revealed how we work with a PO Box in Malta as headquarters and how it receives money from other PO Boxes on the British Virgin Islands.

The inspectors of the Gaming Commission still did not get a clear view of the money flows behind Betway after more than a year of research. In December 2014, more than 28 million euros flowed to Maltese Betway Limited. That capital came from mysterious shareholders on the British Virgin Islands, but the Gaming Commission's auditors could not figure out where exactly that money came from and whether it was kosher. The origin of the sponsor money that the Pro League and RSC Anderlecht received from Betway remains unclear.

The inspectors did discover that a Maltese lawyer is involved in the management of Betway in Malta. The man had previously been discredited as a consultant of another gambling company on the island. That company would have been infiltrated by the Italian mafia. His involvement with Betway can be a violation of the Belgian gambling law, the inspectors discovered.

This is because the man would be active in gambling companies that have a license as a manufacturer in our country and in companies licensed here as gambling operators. That cumul is forbidden. On violations is up to five years in prison and up to 800,000 euros in fine.

Pro League

Pierre François, the CEO of the Pro League, spoke praising language about Betway in September despite the revelations of the Paradise Papers and the ongoing research of the Gaming Commission. "The Pro League found a reliable betting partner in Betway," François said.

Outside the names of the official management team, little is known about Betway. There is also little to read on his Belgian website. It says only that the company owes its license in Belgium to a partnership with the owner of the Brussels casino.

The head office of Betway would be located in the village of Gzira, close to the Maltese capital Valletta. But that is little more than a PO Box address, with a small nameplate on a tired, yellowish office, above a trader who delivers to the local catering industry.

The fact that Belgium is now launching a sanctions procedure against Betway is striking because the gambling company has entered into much larger sponsorship contracts with football clubs and other sports events, including horse races and snooker, in other countries, such as Spain and the United Kingdom.

The gambling company was still looking forward to the outcome of the investigation this morning. Spokesman Alan Alger stated that the Gaming Commission received answers to all of her questions. These were supported by documents. 'Betway does not expect to get a fine or a penalty', it still said.

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