fraud, money laundering and spy money
The autonomous city of Ceuta has become the main destination for online gaming in Europa because of the tax advantages it offers to operators, who pay half the taxes on the peninsula, but also because this sector has the facility to move large amounts of foreign capital.
Online gambling houses are currently one of the epicenters of black money in the name of a figurehead that makes it difficult to accuse them. For this reason, EL ESPAÑOL has moved to Ceutato get up close What does the activity of these companies consist of? many foreigners, who have been settling in the city in the last two years.
The ‘coladero’ was before Gibraltar. With the doubts of Brexitwere initially transferred to United Kingdom, Central Europe, Malta and Cyprus. Andorra also considered being a ‘hub’. But finally, the governments of Ceuta and Melilla took a step forward to offer these services. The president of the Autonomous City, Juan Luis Vivas, Together with other local authorities, in 2017 he presented the idea of reinforcing and updating the tax regulations of 1955 with the aim of making Ceuta “a place to be and invest”. This is how he presented himself, politically speaking.
To do this, online gaming operators must have a company with fiscal residence, a place actually located in Ceuta; in addition to having a staff of 50% of employees from Ceuta or legal residents in the city. However, the reality is very different.
While the Ministry of Consumption documents nine online gaming companies in Ceuta, the Autonomous Organization of Tax Services of Ceuta (OATSCE), attached to the Ministry of Haciendaaccounts for up to 25 companies Russia, France, Italy, Belgium, United Kingdom, Malta and Israel, 27 stores, 230 jobs and a hundred students in professional training courses.
Without enabling title
As EL ESPAÑOL has been able to verify on site, part of the sector in Ceuta, whose installation has been announced in the specialized and local media, does not have the enabling title in spain and operates with a tax domicile in Ceuta in the rest of the world.
“Any of those companies that have a fiscal domicile in Ceuta and that do not operate in Spain because they do not have an enabling title, do so illegally,” they confirm to this medium from the Ministry of Consumption.
This is the case of the British Gamesys. Previously installed on Gibraltar and Malta, moved to Ceuta more than a year ago. However, the resolution by which he is empowered with his tax domicile dates from September 28, 2020 and the appointment of its directors was published in the Official Mercantile Gazette (BORME) in December 2020, after EL ESPAÑOL denounced that the Spanish and Moroccan intelligence services were investigating the situation.
Even with the permission of the General Regulation of the Game, continues to operate since Britain because his address in Ceuta is in a private apartment on a mezzanine floor without lettering or plaque. No one opens the door despite the insistence of ringing the bell. “Here lived a man that we saw when the garbage was taken down, but no one has lived for a month,” the neighboring neighbors explain to EL ESPAÑOL.
Something similar happens with the British Betfred, which landed in Ceuta in 2018 without the Consumption permit, which was granted at the end of September 2020. Thus, it has operated within illegal gambling companies for two years. In any case, she is still installed in a private home without a license plate or activity.
There would also supposedly be located the British Gaming1.COM.UK, which was first registered as a gaming company, but later changed its activity to non-regulated training and consultancy.
They are like hives. Some companies that depend on others, that have the same addresses, but only one of them apparently generates activity. As experts in economic crimes explain to EL ESPAÑOL, “they function as instrumental companies with the aim of acting in economic traffic, intermediaries between the market and the service provider, hiding the latent reality, and with layers to make inspection difficult.”
Others are being created around these companies to carry out advertising, provide technological or computer support, and train employees, forming a network of auxiliary services with a city budget and European Union funds, requested as an alternative to cross-border trade. which accounted for between 20% and 25% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Even a real estate company has been set up with a minimum capital of 3,000 euros.
Another case is that of Emara Play, an interface between operators and players to provide greater security. However, in the mezzanine of the recently built building where it is domiciled for fiscal purposes, behind the cathedral in the heart of the city, no activity is recorded.
Taking advantage of the works, EL ESPAÑOL slipped into the portal and was able to verify in the mailboxes that a few floors above resides one of the members of the Bet On Ceuta Gaming Association, who holds positions of attorney and administrator in at least three companies in the sector in Ceuta. No activity is recorded.
This gaming association was created, according to its website, to “defend the interests of the online gaming industry in Ceutapromote and educate on responsible gaming and encourage training and local employment”.
An Israeli Company
Ceuta has begun to make public in the BORME -during August and September- the company names of these companies -despite not having any activity- to try to give an image of veracity. “Some may be processing documentation and until they finish it, they don’t enjoy the bonus. For example, Bwin come in this case. They are adapting the premises, the personnel or the documentation”, they explain to EL ESPAÑOL from the OATSCE.
However, most of the registered offices published in the BORME do not correspond to companies, but to private homes. Therefore there are no employees either and they could not benefit from tax discounts. The truth is that in the walk through the city in search of these companies, there is even an address that does not exist.
the israeli company Playtecha subsidiary of London Playtech, dedicated to the design, development and marketing of software for online gaming web pages with a capital of 3,000 euros and eleven foreign positions, has been installed for more than a year in the business incubator dependent on the Chamber of Trade.
This store, with around fifteen one-person micro-offices, was born from an agreement between Procesa, the Chamber of Commerce and the Vameral Institute Foundation for the Creation and Development of Companies in 2007, with a financing of one million euros.
After calling the Chamber of Commerce daily for weeks, EL ESPAÑOL managed to interview the head of training by telephone. This person is unaware that a ghost Israeli company appears in the back room. He only confirmed that “Mondobets -the first to settle in Ceuta in 2018-, was housed in the nursery that year, for a month and a half, until the facilities were fixed.”
The amounts of money that can be moved unofficially by not having capital embezzlement prevention bodies are dangerous. Among other things, because many of these companies do not have the license. In addition, this booming sector is barely controlled.
For example, the Madrid Tax Agency It has not carried out inspections because it is a very early activity. “The beneficial regime is very recent, from the budgets for 2018, which meant that it was in 2019 when the majority of the operators that are there now were established, so that the inspections will be more or less from now on, logically looking towards back since they were installed”, they explain from the Tax Agency in Madrid.
In this way, the traditional ‘hawala’, the informal system of sending money from one country to another with lenders on both sides of the border, becomes obsolete and gives way to large-scale laundering with new techniques.
Money is injected from territories where movements are not controlled, they hire people to bet with prepaid credit cards or cryptocurrencies, and they use robots that play as anonymous people. In this way, when the bets are over, the money is laundered.
“They operate with false identities. They use ID or false passports or those of deceased people. There is a trade in documentation in order but in dead people in Asia ”, he explains Louis Rodriguez, financial crime prevention expert and managing partner of ComplianZenin a telephone interview with EL ESPAÑOL.
In these cases, the player has a false identity document or that of a deceased person and with these data they register in the application to start operating. If the owner of the company does not verify the veracity of the information, it can operate freely impersonating the identity of the deceased person or posing as someone who does not exist.
For this reason, gambling companies must implement systems to check player data against blacklists, as well as algorithms that confirm that the document numbers are real.
On the other hand, “these fictitious companies are used to award prizes that justify large amounts of money,” he adds. In fact, they are used to pay for espionage services, and allow foreigners who supposedly operate in the companies to enter and exit. Keep in mind that many are Russian, Turkish, Israeli and British. As EL ESPAÑOL has learned, Iranian espionage has recently joined.
This money laundering could be used to transfer money from drug trafficking, terrorism and criminal groups. As we have verified with Morocco, front companies are used to pay foreign intelligence informants.
Currently operating as gaming companies online Without covering the preventive aspects of money laundering and financing of terrorism, gambling and gambling under minors is a full-fledged illegality by the 2010 law. However, Rodríguez anticipates: “We’re going to see a lot more of this.”
But it is not just gambling that some of these companies encourage, promote and use for other purposes, such as providing cover for international intelligence services.
The reason for the transfer of Gamesys to Ceuta has nothing to do with what was reported in the report.
Gamesys operates in 100% of Spain. It has a work center in Ceuta, with an office of more than 140 square meters and 18 employees (alternating the office and teleworking).
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