Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri is under investigation by Italian authorities for using a Malta-based company to facilitate money laundering, potentially linked to mafia gang ‘Ndrangheta.
Italian portal La Verita reported that he is being probed following claims he spent more than €350,000 in two foreign casinos. These transactions were described as “suspicious” by regulators and have sparked further investigations.
His bank, Banca Intermobiliare flagged several credit card transfers between July 2018 and April 2021, totalling €161,000. The payments that sparked the attention of the authorities came from a Maltese company that is already under investigation for fraud, tax evasion and links to the mafia.
Oia Service Ltd, registered in Malta, had already been implicated in the Galassia investigation by Italian prosecutors. This investigation led to the seizure of some €440 million in assets belonging to entrepreneur Antonio Ricci.
Ricci was accused of conspiracy, aggravated fraud to the detriment of the state, as well as tax evasion. He was arrested by the Maltese police at the request of Italian authorities in 2019.
As well as involvement with Oia, he was also the CEO of Betland, a site operating from Malta. It was named alongside Planetwin365 and Enjoybet as being of interest to Calabrian prosecutors.
Ricci had also advised the Malta Football Association on how to combat match-fixing and ensuring integrity in football. His company even sponsored the MFA Integrity Tour of 2014. The MFA had claimed they didn’t make any direct contact with Betland or Ricci.
Then, in late 2019, all charges against Ricci and his company Oia were dropped. Italian courts said there wasn’t enough proof of ties between criminal gangs and the Malta-based company. They resumed their Maltese activities with no further problems.
His company also has links to another Italian national, Luigi Discornia who was once employed by Centurionbet, a company that was seized and had its licence revoked due to links to a €20 million money laundering scheme also linked to the ‘Ndrangheta.
In terms of Allegri, he also reportedly received another seven transfers from a Slovenian company to the tune of €168,000. Hit DD Nova Gorica is described as a company that manages hotels, gaming and entertainment centres in Slovenia.
Allegri is reported to have spent more than €350,000 in two casinos during 2018, using money received from Malta and Slovenia.
Allegri has denied the allegation, saying he denied any links to illegal or irregular activity as well as any violation of the anti-money laundering legislation.
Malta is no stranger to links between its gambling industry and the Italian mafia.
In March, another Maltese company was identified as being involved in a tax-evasion scam worth €600 million. The unnamed company was believed to be linked to the Santapaola-Ercolano clan. The Guardia di Finanza in Italy audited a Catania-based company and several violations led them to the Malta-based entity.
This entity was involved in “betting collection activities and offering a wide range of online products including sports betting, live poker, virtual games, games of skill” and other online gambling services “without authorisation”.
Huge profits were then channelled into the Maltese company before being laundered in property, land and other companies in Germany and Italy. Some €570 million was undeclared to authorities over three years.
In 2016, the Italian Dipartimento Investigativo Antimafia (DIA) had noted that the Santapaola-Ercolano clan was using Malta for various criminal activities including illegal gambling and fuel smuggling.
A year later, 30 people were arrested in Italy for their links between Santapaola-Ercolano and money laundering and illegal gambling in Malta. In the same year, around nine licences were revoked in Malta due to criminal links.
In 2017, 31 individuals including Benedetto Bacci were arrested for working with the Cosa Nostra to launder money derived from illegal gambling through a Maltese company.
The Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reported at the time that the Italian Mafia often uses the Maltese online gambling sector as a “cash cow” for criminals. Often, criminals will make deals with legitimate sites that have set up shop in Malta because of its “favourable” fiscal regime.