Malta online gambling ops reported record suspicious transactions in 2019


Malta-licensed online gambling operators broke a record for suspicious transaction reports (STR) in 2019 and are well on pace to break that record this year.

Malta’s Financial Intelligence Action Unit (FIAU) recently released its report on STRs issued last year by remote gaming licensees of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). The reports were submitted to the FIAU’s Compliance and Supervision Platform for Assessing Risk (CASPAR), with which all MGA remote licensees are required to register.

The FIAU received 1,445 STRs from online operators in 2019, more than twice the 700 received in 2018, which was itself more than triple the 218 received in 2017. As of May 2020, the FIAU had received 741 STRs, putting the current year on pace to break 2019’s record.

Nearly one-third (32%) of 2019’s STRs were submitted by just three companies, while another 35% were submitted by five different companies. The remaining 33% of STRs were submitted by 72 entities, with 29 online licensees filing one STR apiece. Just over one-quarter (26%) of licensees submitted zero STRs last year.

Nearly half (46%) of STRs were submitted based on transactions that were either unexplained or inconsistent with the known customer profile, featured unusually large deposits, were overly complex, involved chargebacks or there was some mismatch between beneficiaries and the bank accounts into which credits were to be made.

Customer behavior – becoming uncooperative when asked for details/documentation or abruptly stopping contact – ranked second with 21% of STRs, followed by issues with identification and verification process and documentation (16%). Adverse media (3%) and transfers to or from high-risk jurisdictions (2%) rounded out the top-five.

Around one-third (32%) of STRs involved sums below €10k, while 22% ranged from €100k to €1m. Some 36 STRs involved sums over €1m.

Of the 1,445 STRs received in 2019, the FIAU issued 1,096 spontaneous intelligence reports to its counterparts in other countries. The FIAU said it considers it “more appropriate” to send such notices rather than conduct probes in Malta due to “the strong international element that is evident in most of these cases, with the only link to Malta being the remote gaming account with the Maltese-licensed entity.”