A Malta-licensed gaming company has been highlighted as potentially being linked to the illegal proceeds of one of the biggest-ever online financial scams, according to whistleblower website Fintelegram.com.
Bet90 Sports, a Malta registered and licensed gambling company with links to former MGA official Iosif Galea and accused financial criminal Brian Tonna’s firm Nexia BT, has come under the spotlight after reports detailing its potentially shady past and its links with those involved in corruption, crime, and money laundering.
But the story behind the company begins many years before.
In July 2020, a German citizen, Uwe Lenhoff, was found dead in his prison cell. No cause of death was ever given by the authorities. At the time of his death, he was facing charges for his alleged involvement in one of the largest ever online financial frauds.
This fraud involved a network of companies, brands and individuals operating illegal call centres, trading sites and betting sites throughout Europe. It’s reported they scammed at least 200,000 vulnerable and elderly people out of more than €200 million.
One whistleblower who told the German authorities all he knew about the scam was also found dead in Serbia just before he took the stand. The police said it was heart failure, but he was just 34 years old.
It’s alleged that the money made from the scams was laundered into networks of companies and other businesses worldwide. These were linked to those involved, including Lenhoff.
One corporate service provider who spoke to Balkan news portal BIRN said it was common for him and his colleagues to open companies for Lenhoff and his associates in their own names to disguise the real owners. The companies were then used to launder the money.
Before his death, Lenhoff co-founded a company called Veltyco. This holding company had many brands and other companies under its umbrella. These included those later found to be involved in the cybercrime scandal, including Option888, Xmarkets, LottoPalace, and TradoVest.
But one of these companies was Bet90 Sports Limited. A legitimate company, licensed and registered in Malta, that operates online gambling and betting services in line with the law.
However, concerns have been raised by those looking into the matter that funds from illegal sources and scams could have been pumped into Bet90, essentially using it as a money laundering vehicle.
After Lenhoff’s death, Veltyco, by this time a publicly traded company, was renamed B90 Holdings PLC. Bet90 also had a new director, Maltese citizen Iosif Galea.
Galea had worked as an officer at the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (which then became the Malta Gaming Authority) and was allegedly involved in the scandal that ended John Dalli’s reign as an EU Commissioner. Linked to the inner circles of the Labour Party, he was referred to as “Dalli’s henchman” by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2015.
This was about him being under investigation by Italian anti-Mafia authorities for his involvement as a key official for Maltese companies involved in laundering the profits of ‘Ndrangheta mafia activities.
Marketing himself as a gambling consultant, he was, for unknown reasons, taken off the list of suspects. In fact, he is still considered a fit and proper person by the MGA. He is a key official, MLRO, compliance officer, and director of several licensed Malta gambling companies.
Even more interesting is that the now disgraced and defunct audit firm, Nexia BT, was the auditor for the firm. Brian Tonna from Nexia BT is currently being prosecuted for money laundering and falsifying documents.
Documents show Bet90 Sports was set up with funding from two companies, Winslet Enterprises and Payific, both of which are labelled as scams and being involved in money laundering. This would mean that Bet90 Sports is a legacy of the cybercrime past of Veltyco Group/B90 Holdings.
But Malta has also been attractive to other individuals allegedly involved in the cybercrime scam. Ilan Tzorya was also named one of the masterminds of the scam: he created the software called Tradlogic that was used by many of the sites involved in the illegal activity. He has since moved into cryptocurrency, establishing a company called Krypton Invest that has offices in Malta. He denies wrongdoing in the scam, saying he is no longer involved with the Tradlogic.
Questions sent to Iosif Galea last week remained unanswered.