April 28, 2016

Gala Coral rings changes after AML failures

Gala Coral said it has instigated changes across its anti-money laundering (AML) and social responsibility (SR) policies after failures identified by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) cost it almost £850,000 (€1.1m/$1.2m).

The UK gaming operator, which runs Coral, Grosvenor Casinos and the Gala Bingo website, has acted after it failed to deal adequately with a customer who fraudulently spent more than £800,000 with the company between 2012 and January 2015 and is now serving a three-year prison sentence.

After an investigation, the UKGC concluded that the identified issues highlighted by this customer indicated wider systemic faults with Gala Coral Group’s approach to AML and SR at the relevant time.

The UKGC found that Gala Coral failed to appropriately assess customer risk and obtain adequate information with regard to customers’ source of funds or source of wealth. It also did not utilise open source internet resources effectively or effectively use account information to identify potential problem gamblers.

The gaming operator has returned the customer’s gross gambling yield of £846,000 to the vulnerable adult that he stole from and has made a number of improvements to its procedures over the course of the last year.

“These improvements included new tools to enhance customer checks, increased headcount in our anti-money laundering team and improved training for retail and online customer-facing colleagues,” a Gala Coral spokesperson said. “We also intend to submit our AML and SR policies to a review by a third party.

“Gala Coral remains fully committed to working with the Commission and the broader industry to strengthen existing controls and to ensure that responsible gambling remains at the core of our business.”

The UKGC has warned operators to remember that under the Gambling Act 2005 their licence depends on taking appropriate steps to “keep crime out of gambling”.

Richard Watson, programme director at the UKGC, added: “We expect the industry will learn the lessons from this case, as it is their responsibility to keep crime out of gambling and protect vulnerable people from harm.

“We know that Gala Coral have reflected heavily on this case and have assured us of actions they have taken to address the failings. Operators must proactively monitor customers to keep gambling safe and free from crime.”

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