The Economic Security Bureau of Ukraine has seized UAH700m (£14.8m/€17.3m/$18.6m) from a leading gambling operator for tax evasion, according to reports from The New Voice of Ukraine and Forbes. The operator, believed to be Cosmolot, is accused of evading UAH1.20bn in taxes and running unlicensed online gambling operations.
The investigation found more than 30 “mirror” sites similar to those of the licensed operator offering illegal gambling. Additionally, a “misdirection” of payments scheme was uncovered to evade taxes on a large scale. The operator was also not located at the address specified in its license, and its employees concealed evidence needed for the investigation.
As a result, UAH700m has been seized from the operator’s account, and a pre-trial investigation is underway with guidance from the Prosecutor General’s Office. Cosmolot has denied the charges, stating that its employees are only involved in maintaining and supporting the official website under the official license.
This case is the latest effort by Ukrainian authorities to clamp down on illegal gambling. Last year, new laws were enacted to subject organizations to anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regulations, leading to more stringent inspections. Additionally, proposals were made to prevent banks from lending money to self-excluded consumers and potentially dissolve and replace the national regulator, KRAIL.
Deputy prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov submitted a draft law to dissolve KRAIL and replace it with a new executive body due to delays in issuing gambling licenses. The regulator’s operations have been hindered by the mobilization of some Commission members into military service following the country’s invasion by armed forces, causing delays in regulatory work.