A Turkish organised crime gang until recently headed by a late North Cypriot casino and hotel boss wanted in the US for money laundering and drug trafficking, has reportedly been laundering the proceeds of illegal gambling through a Malta cryptocurrency exchange.
Some $30 million in cryptocurrency in Malta that belonged to the murdered Turkish crime boss, Halil Falyalı, who was assassinated last February in North Cyprus, has been seized by Turkish authorities as part of an investigation into an illegal gambling ring, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The investigation into the gambling ring is being conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. As part of that investigation, Turkish authorities issued detention warrants for 46 suspects and blocked the cryptocurrency accounts of 229 other individuals.
11 companies were also involved in transferring the proceeds of illegal gambling, which were sent to cryptocurrency accounts owned by an Ankara-based criminal organisation.
The Turkish authorities said that some $30 million were seized from cryptocurrency accounts in Malta belonging to Falyalı and his wife. The accounts were being sent the illicit gambling funds through the Papara free money transfer app, and they were then being converted into untraceable cryptocurrency.
According to Turkish press reports, the money laundering ring had developed special software to avoid capture, which transferred funds from illegal betting to other accounts within 20 seconds. The prosecutor’s office confiscated another $40 million of crypto assets in Turkey on court order.