From toxic waste to iGaming

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It is a well known fact that the underworld on the Italian peninsula controls vast stretches of the Italian economy.

Some readers would remember the underworld’s waste-management activity that ended in the sinking of some 42 ships laden with toxic and/or hazardous waste throughout the Mediterranean. This was well known to environmentalists but confirmed during the Palermo maxi-processo, when Mafia turncoat Francesco Fonti gave evidence identifying the location of one such sunken ship, the Kunsky, loaded with 120 barrels of toxic waste, just off the Calabrian coast.

This network of organised environmental crime is so vast that, at one time, it also dumped toxic, hazardous and nuclear waste in Somalia. The warlords in the Somalia civil war were partly financed by the Italian underworld, which supplied them with arms in return for their consent to the dumping of the toxic, hazardous and nuclear waste in Somalia. Rai Tre’s investigative journalist Ilaria Alpi and her cameraman Miran Hrovatin were murdered in Mogadishu after having successfully tracked down the toxic shipments.

In early 2008 it was identified that buffalo mozzarella originating from some 83 dairy farms in an area near Naples was tainted with dioxin. The buffalo were grazing in an area where the Mafia was controlling the dumping of toxic waste  containing dioxin. When ingested through food dioxin can cause birth defects and organ failure in mammals. Large quantities of buffalo mozzarella tainted with dioxin were withdrawn from the market.

Carmine Schiavone, another Mafia turncoat, spilled the beans on more dumping of toxic and hazardous waste by the Mafia in the Naples area, in particular in the area around Casale di Principe. It has been reported that the incidence of cancer in these areas has skyrocketed as a result of the dumping contaminating the water table.

It is estimated that the underworld has garnered some €20 billion a year in the last few years from its illicit dealings in waste. Add to this the billions from its drug dealings, estimated at another €20 billion annually and you can clearly understand the Mafia’s need to launder huge sums of money.

Two specific areas seem to have been selected for this purpose. One such area was an investment in wind-farms in Sicily. Wheeling and dealing in the Sicilian wind farms was a certain Gaetano Buglisi who, for a time, made use of Malta’s fiduciary services by hiding behind their corporate veil. Last February the Italian Courts sentenced him to three years in jail as well as a substantial fine on finding him guilty of tax evasion.

It is within this context that one should try to understand the iGaming saga in Malta.

In the last few days the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has suspended the operating licences of a number of iGaming operators. Until the time of writing, six operators have been suspended, namely : Uniq Group Limited (Betuniq), Betsolution4U Limited, Alibaba Casino Limited, Soft Casino Limited,   Fenplay Limited and Soft Bet Limited . The MGA did not act on its own initiative but at the request of Italian law enforcement agencies.

In a press release, the MGA stated these licences had been suspended “further to investigations and arrests carried out by the Italian law enforcement authorities in collaboration with the Maltese police. The MGA is providing full support to the relevant authorities so that Malta’s reputation as a gaming jurisdiction of excellence is kept free from crime and money laundering. The MGA is also alerting counterpart regulators in other EU jurisdictions about this case.”

In a further press release issued on 25 July it was stated  “At the time of application (according to the MGA’s records), in line with standard procedures, all directors, shareholders, senior managers and ultimate beneficiary owners of these companies have been screened through MGA’s systems and protocols, using probity tools and national and international contacts and organisations. This forms part of the probity checks conducted at pre-licensing stage and before the actual business model of the gaming operation in question is screened and other control systems are checked and approved. The licensing process also includes independent audits, such as system and compliance audits which are carried out by approved external auditors.”

It seems that the due diligence carried out in Malta is no match for the underworld. It is possibly a case of amateurs trying to keep professionals in check.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna stated that a review of due diligence procedures will be undertaken and changes will be put in place if  required. As a start, he should consider embedding complete transparency in iGaming. Hiding the identity of iGaming operators should be discontinued by emending legislation and discontinuing fiduciary services. This corporate veil is unfortunately being used as a tool by the underworld. As a nation we could do better if we make an effort to keep organised crime as far away from Malta’s economic activities as possible. It is pertinent to ask: how many iGaming jobs in Malta depend on Mafia linked operators.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday, 2 August 2015

On this blog on the same subject one can view the following :

2009 The eco-threat of the Italian Mafia.

2013 On Malta’s Northern doorstep: the Mafia contaminates Southern Italy with millions of tonnes of toxic and nuclear waste.

2013 Ecocide in the Mediterranean. The known consequences so far.

2013 Schiavone’s secrets on eco-mafia operations: when will Malta’s government speak up.

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Il-helicopter għal Justyne

helicopter AFM

Justyne twasslet l-ajruport malajr bil-helicopter. Għax inkella ma kienitx tlaħħaq, qalulna, u dan minħabba li damu ma iddeċidew. Il-problema ma kienitx Justyne, iżda l-fatt li damu ma iddeċidew.

Il-każ tal-helicopter, kif qalulna, mhux biss ta’ Justyne iżda ukoll il-każ ta’ Lawrence Gonzi. Ta’ meta għamel użu mill-helicopter għal xi tieġ, għall-opra jew biex ilaħħaq jattendi għal xi funeral ukoll. Issemma ukoll meta Lawrence Gonzi għamel użu minn ajruplan tal-Forzi Armati ta’ Malta biex jattendi Palermo għal attivita tal-Partit Popolari Ewropew.

Issa dan kollu huwa tajjeb jew ħażin? Għall-PN Justyne abbużat! Għall-Labour il-PN m’għandux dritt jakkuża b’abbuż għax il-PN fil-Gvern “abbuża ħafna iktar minn hekk”!

Ir-realta’ hi li dan hu każ fejn għandu jkun ċar għal kulħadd liema huma dawk il-faċilitajiet u servizzi li joffri l-istat li jistgħu jkunu użati mill-politiċi kif ukoll taħt liema kundizzjonijiet dan jista’ jsir..

Jiena ma nara xejn ħażin li fiċ-ċirkustanzi partikolari li nqalgħu Justyne utilizzat il-faċilita’ tal-helicopter. Nittama biss li f’ċirkustanzi simili jintużaw l-istess kriterji ma kulħadd.

Jibqa’ l-każ ta’ Lawrence Gonzi. Kien ġustifikat jew le li juża ajrulan tal-Forzi Armati ta’ Malta biex imur Palermo jattendi laqgħa tal-Partit Popolari Ewropew . Jiena kont dakinnhar ikkritikajt il-kaz billi fuq dan il-blog għidt li l-PN jisserva bl-Armata.

L-impenji ta’ Lawrence Gonzi, kienu qalulna dakinnhar, kienu tali li meta tqis kollox dan kien l-unika mod kif jasal għall-laqgħa tal-Partit Popolari Ewropew f’Palermo. Wieħed jista’ jasal biex jaċċetta dan it-tip ta’ argument biss meta jkun ċar li l-Armata mhux ser tintuża biex tissussidja lill-Partit Politiċi. F’ċirkustanzi bħal dawn, meta jkunu ġustifikati, għandu jintbagħat kont mill-Armata lill-partit politiku li jkun utilizza s-servizzi tagħha.

Dan ukoll hu wieħed mill-materji ta’ relevanza kbira għal Standards fil-ħajja pubblika.

Jekk nifhmu dan, il-helicopter għal Justyne ikun sewa għal xi ħaga!

Il-PN jisserva bl-Armata

Il-Malta Today  u l-Illum tal-Ħadd li għadda 19 ta’ Frar 2012  ippubblikaw storja li fiha żvelaw kif  Lawrence Gonzi uża ajruplan tal-Forzi Armati biex jattendi laqgħa politika tal-Partit Popolari Ewropew ġewwa Palermo f’Mejju 2011.

Skond l-Illum l-ispjega li ngħatat kienet illi kieku ma għamilx hekk ma kienx ilaħħaq jiġi lura biex jindirizza konferenza internazzjonali tan-Nurses iktar tard fl-istess jum.

Mela issa qegħdin tajjeb. Il-Gvern iġib l-għajnuna tal-Unjoni Ewropeja biex jixtri ajruplan Hawker Beechcraft Kin g Air li sewa €9.6 miljuni. Ajruplan intenzjonat biex jissorvelja l-fruntieri marittimi ta’ Malta kif ukoll biex jagħti għajnuna ta’ salvataġġ li tkun meħtieġa.

F’jum minnu dan l-ajruplan flok ma jintuża fuq xogħolu jintuża biex iwassal Kap ta’ Partit Politiku għal laqgħa ta’ partiti politiċi.

M’hiex skuża aċċettabbli dik li nġiebet li m’hemmx flights ta’ l-Air Malta disponibbli.

Il-kaxxa ta’ Malta m’għandiex tissussidja lill-Partit poltiiku ta’ Lawrence Gonzi.

Tajjeb li nkunu nafu x’għamel  l-Awditur Ġenerali dwar dan il-każ ta’ abbuż fejn l-armata ta’ Malta qed tiffinanzja l-attivita’ politika tal-PN billi wasslet lill-Kap tal-Partit Nazzjonalista f’Palermo u ġiebitu lura.