Costa Rica-based online sportsbook 5Dimes has been caught up in a money laundering probe that also involves a director of the country’s national bank.
This week, Costa Rican media outlet Nacion.com reported that Marisol Carvajal Cordero, a 35-year-old local listed as the manager of 5Dimes, had been connected to companies whose Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) accounts were abruptly closed in November after the bank was unable to verify the source of the funds in the accounts.
The report claims Carvajal -controlled companies based in Malta and Dubai transferred a total of $1.53b in 2014 to BCR accounts. Some of this $1.53b was transferred to 5Dmes’s parent company, Red Planet SA, which Carvajal also heads up. The BCR claimed it was unable to resolve the volume of the transferred funds with Carvajal’s managerial status.
Around $67m was transferred from Caravajal’s accounts to Latinamerica Trust & Escrow Company SA (Latco), a company ostensibly set up to handle real estate administration in Costa Rica. The $67m was moved in 25 transfers from the Malta and Dubai companies via banks in Germany, Spain the UK and the United States.
Around 30% of the funds deposited with Latco were forwarded to accounts in Panama and Peru, while 67% were transferred to Latco accounts at other CR banks and the remaining 3% was distributed via cashier checks.
Lawyer Manfred Pino reportedly holds the vast majority (87%) of Latco’s shares, while his wife controls the rest. Jennifer Morsink, a BCR director, is listed as Latco’s treasurer.
In a followup report, Pino told Nacion.com that the probe was the result of a personal feud between Morsink and BCR president Paola Mora Tumminelli. Pino claimed Mora suspected Morsink of being the author of an anonymous conflict of interest complaint filed against Mora last September, two months before the accounts were closed.
Pino claims Mora personally warned him that the bank would launch the probe unless Morsink fessed up to being the author of the complaint. Pino also claimed that the bank’s claim of inadequate documentation involving the Malta and Dubai companies was due to Pino only having been given 72 hours to produce the necessary documents.
It’s important to note that Costa Rican officials have yet to file charges against anyone connected with this probe. But 5Dimes’ plight reflects the increasingly ridiculous hurdles that American sports bettors must negotiate in order to fund their entertainment choices, all because US authorities can’t seem to disabuse themselves of outdated notions of the morality of sports betting.
This is the second time Costa Rica’s online gambling industry has been connected with a money laundering probe in as many weeks. Late last month, Western Union revealed that US federal authorities were probing the company’s transactions with online gambling firms, including at dozens of WU agent locations in Costa Rica.