Several Detained In Raid On Illegal Gambling Ring In Santa Ana
In 2017, the gambling company struck a sponsorship deal with S.
Napoli, one of the top two teams in Italian professional football.
But though the company is controlled by a Dutch investment fund with a global portfolio, this commercial success story has a dark side, with long-standing ties to organized crime.
In November 2018, Italian law enforcement officers charged more than 60 people as part of an investigation of mafia infiltration of the gambling sector.
Prosecutors accused them of striking deals with prominent members of mafia clans to ensure their brand would dominate in territories controlled by gambling crime ring criminal syndicates.
Dealing with the mafia is a crime in itself in Italy; the four were also accused of allowing the mafia to launder money through their business.
Paolo Carlo Tavarelli, Ivana Ivanovic, Giuseppe Decandia and Paolo Sipone were released pending their trial.
He said the same about Ivanovic, who is also his client.
An attorney for Sipone could not immediately be identified.
A year before the bust, the gambling brand was acquired by new owners when a Dutch private equity fund called Ramphastos Investments Group N.
Shortly after the publication of this story, a media representative of SKS365 contacted OCCRP with additional responses.
Show Hide A Sordid Start Planetwin365 was launched in 2009 by former kickboxing champion Paolo Carlo Tavarelli, his wife Ivana Ivanovic, and business partners Giuseppe Decandia and Paolo Sipone.
The company based its operations first in Austria and then in Malta, popular jurisdictions within the gaming industry due to lax online gambling regulations.
After securing gaming licenses in those countries, Planetwin365 gradually opened thousands of franchised betting shops across Italy, its main target market.
A license issued by any European Union member state allows its holder to operate shops across the continent, as long as they limit their operations to letting clients place bets online themselves.
The mafia groups helped Planetwin365 maintain a monopoly in the region and at times intimidated competitors — all while using the betting shops to launder money.
Investigators calculated that between 2015 and 2016, SKS365 — the company that controlled Planetwin365 — made a profit of about 85 million euros on turnover of almost 2 billion euros.
The amnesty required them to pay 10,000 euros per shop, as well as some back taxes, in exchange for an Italian license.
The underground system offered clients better odds and more anonymity while allowing Planetwin365 to avoid paying taxes on the transactions.
The company is owned by the children of Vito Martiradonna, a convicted associate of the Sacra Corona Unita mafia syndicate, based in southern Italy.
They have to pay me for this dirty work.
Bari and Crotone in southern Italy.
Investigators traced the money across several offshore jurisdictions, flowing from Swiss bank accounts belonging to three organizations set up by Tavarelli, Decandia, and Ivanovic in Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island, to accounts controlled by the Martiradonna group in Malta and Saint Lucia.
As the profits from the illegal scheme mounted, Planetwin365 sent a share of the earnings to its business partner.
Close to 18 million euros were traced by police between August click to see more and January 2018.
In 2016, after Planetwin365 received its amnesty license from Italian regulators, its owners were recorded discussing the expansion of their partnership with Bet1128, including new gambling shops in the coastal towns of Bari and Crotone, where Martiradonna allegedly has close ties with members of the local mafia.
In June 2019 Francesco Martiradonna was sentenced to 11 years and four months in prison in connection to his dealings with the Crotone clans.
Dutch private equity fund Ramphastos Investments is named after the toucan genus.
Credit: Germano Roberto Schüür - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.
He still runs the private equity fund today.
Ramphastos holds interests in over 30 companies with a cumulative revenue of more than 5 billion euros to date, according to its website.
Even as the Planetwin365 owners were plotting to expand their illegal partnership with Bet1128, they sold their company to the Dutch investors for a figure Ramphastos put at 158 million euros paid over two years.
Michieli was also a director of SKS365 until late May 2019.
According to prosecutors, Michieli first came into contact with Planetwin365 in December 2015 through a Maltese consultant close to Martiradonna.
His claims are contradicted by the indictment against the four Planetwin365 founders.
Of course I am disappointed to find out that the name of one of our companies is being gambling crime ring with individuals who are facing such serious allegations.
However, a series of Planetwin365 shops across Italy, which investigators said were directly controlled by the local mafias, remained open after the acquisition until they were seized by police in the bust last November.
Formally managed by a nominee shareholder, the shop was more info shut down following the police probe.
SKS365 said it was not aware that the shop in Bari was under the control of Francesco Martiradonna.
Screenshot from a Facebook page for a Planetwin365 shop in Bari, still operating in November 2018.
Credit: Facebook Bas Jongmans, a Dutch gaming attorney, told OCCRP that alarm bells should always ring when entering a foreign market.
He is also an associate of disgraced former Undersecretary for Infrastructure Armando Siri, who was forced to step down after coming under investigation for accepting kickbacks.
According to prosecutors, Siri was bribed by an entrepreneur who wanted him to vote for a law that would have benefited another businessman already sentenced for mafia-related crimes.
Another Questionable Acquisition SKS365 was not the only troubled Italian business acquired by Ramphastos.
In 2017, the Dutch fund bought a majority stake in Talenta Labs, a casino game designer founded by brothers Moreno and Massimiliano Rizzo.
Ramphastos partner and SKS365 board member van Wijngaarden told OCCRP that the purchase was recommended by Paolo Tavarelli, one of gambling history florida Planetwin365 founders.
Six months before the acquisition, of charges related to illegal gambling activities and sentenced to prison.
While Rizzo was initially cleared of mafia association charges by a judge, that ruling was appealed https://krimket.com/gambling/gambling-commission-online-portal.html October 2017, after Femia turned into an informant and provided new evidence.
The appeals trial started earlier this month.
Michieli and van Wijngaarden also serve on the board of Talenta Labs alongside the Rizzo brothers, who still have a 20 percent stake in the company.
What we can do is what we have done: take steps to prevent parts of our network from becoming entangled with certain individuals.
The Dutch investment fund purchased a majority stake in Talenta Labs in August 2017.
About OCCRP Gambling crime ring Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project OCCRP is a global network of investigative journalists.
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