Costa Rica not investigating 5Dimes over US money laundering allegations

costa-rica-5dimes-money-launderingCosta Rican authorities say they’re not investigating allegations that locally based online gambling operator 5Dimes engaged in money laundering activity with US sports bettors.

In March, Costa Rican media reported that 5Dimes’ local manager was caught up in an investigation of money transfers between Banco de Costa Rica accounts and companies in Malta and Dubai. The same month saw US Homeland Security accuse 5Dimes of instructing American sports bettors to use Amazon gift cards to fund their online accounts.

On Tuesday, local media outlet La Nacion quoted Alvaro Montoya, deputy prosecutor in Costa Rica’s Office of Money Laundering, saying his department wasn’t investigating 5Dimes or other Costa Rica-based sportsbooks for alleged money laundering because, last time he checked, sports betting wasn’t illegal in Costa Rica.

Montoya said it was fine for certain jurisdictions to investigate allegations of money laundering related to illegal sports betting, but gambling “is not a crime in Costa Rica” and thus it “would not be a source” of justification to investigate money laundering allegations.

Montoya underscored this point by noting that Costa Rica-based sportsbooks had, since 2012, been required to pay a special tax based on the size of their local payroll. Montoya observed that the country was “hardly going to tax someone who commits a crime.”

Montoya said he was willing to investigate local betting operators if he received “concrete information” that betting activity was being funded with money derived from the proceeds of crime, but he wasn’t prepared to act when the evidence was “in the abstract.”

Acknowledging the US investigation into 5Dimes’ dealings with US bettors, Montoya argued that his response “would be different” if the US authorities claimed to be investigating 5Dimes for “laundering money from drug trafficking.” But until evidence supporting such an allegation is presented, Montoya’s office is taking a hands-off approach.