666Bet director arrested in £21m VAT fraud and money laundering investigation

666bet-director-arrestedA director of Isle of Man-based online gambling company 666Bet has been arrested in connection with a money laundering and fraud investigation.

Last week, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) suspended the operating license of Metro Play Limited, which controls both the 666Bet and MetroPlay.com online gambling sites. At the time, the UKGC declined to specify what had prompted the suspension, saying only that it suspected the firm was “unsuitable” to carry on its gambling activities.

The suspension was preceded by news that police in the UK, the Isle of Man and Guernsey had arrested seven unidentified individuals as part of a VAT fraud and money laundering investigation titled Operation Bannock. The operation saw police execute a number of raids in Cheshire, London, Manchester, Guernsey and the Isle of Man, seizing “significant” amounts of cash and business records. Rumors circulated that the raids were linked to Metro Play’s suspension but police declined to confirm the speculation.

On Saturday, the Independent reported that 666Bet director Paul Bell, a former stockbroker turned investor, was one of the individuals arrested as part of Operation Bannock. Bell was reportedly released on bail last week only to be rearrested the following day following his arrival on the Isle of Man. Isleofman.com reported that two individuals were released on bail last week and that police had seized £500k in cash following raids on two Isle of Man premises.

The 666Bet and Metro Play sites have been offline since last Friday, The sites’ home pages continue to display the same messages they’ve been showing since the suspensions came down, claiming that the sites would be down “for the next couple of hours” due to “maintenance.”

The last communication from 666Bet’s official Twitter feed came on Monday when it stated that the operators “hope to have the site and our license back ASAP but cannot comment on when this will be. We appreciate your patience, every customer owed money will be paid.”