Yorgen Fenech, owner of 17 Black, has been accused of being a part of a ‘large criminal network’ involving the Swedish igaming industry and Malta.
As of 1 January, any gaming company targeting Swedish players must register for a license from the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate. Out of all of the 67 licenses applied for in Sweden, almost all were based in Malta, and four were banned from operating in Norway due to their violations of the law.
These companies were accused of violating the law and making transfers of money to and from Norwegian banks, something that is now illegal. Despite this fact, they were still granted the right to operate in Sweden.
One of the companies named as one that is operating illegally in Norway is L&L Europe Ltd, co-owned by Yorgen Fenech. Dagens Nyheter (DN) reported the findings, noting that Fenech had links to a corruption racket in Malta linked to several politicians.
The Norwegian authorities had decided to stop a number of bank transactions to companies that act as payment intermediaries for online casinos. In 2017, they stopped payments in excess of €51 million. DN also showed that a number of these companies are structured in such a way as to hide the real owners.
In the case of Yorgen Fenech’s company, it is owned by a number of different agent companies with the intent of masking his identity. One of these companies, based in Gibraltar has also been used to evade tax, according to the Swedish Tax Agency.
Despite these issues, the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate made the decision to power ahead with granting the L&L Europe a license to conduct online gaming from Malta but targeting Swedes. When asked about the legal issues surrounding L&L Europe, the Swedish Gaming Inspectorate replied that it was aware of the violations but that the issue has been dealt with.
Swedish MEP Gunnar Hokmark commented in a hearing at the European Parliament this week that the fact that Malta has become a hub for Swedish gaming companies that are involved in illegalities, sends out a very bad signal.
“[Swedish gaming companies] should increasingly see it as a problem that they are staying in an environment that risks pulling them into completely different activities. I don’t think that Malta is a healthy environment to be in if you are doing business in gaming.”
He also commented that golden visas, money laundering, tax evasion are very serious issues and that is very worrying that the Maltese government doesn’t seem to be concerned.
When asked for a comment by the Swedish press, Fenech said the claims were “false, absurd, and obviously slander”.
Fenech was found to be the owner of Dubai-based company 17 Black, set up to pay kickbacks to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi, according to leaked emails.