German Economists: Mafia Uses German Gambling for Money Laundering

In his latest report, a University of Hamburg economist and online gambling specialist researcher Ingo Fiedler claims that organised crime relies heavily on German online gambling sites for money laundering, which is contributed to by confusing laws.

And while the German Federal High Court has referred questions on the country’s confusing gambling laws to the European Court of Justice, the economist says that according to a current UN study, organized crime makes profits of $2.1 billion a year, constantly seeking new ways to launder 'dirty' money as legitimate earnings.

One such method appears to be 'betting dirty and winning clean', according to Fiedler, who says that this is now being extended into ownership of online gambling operations, as their platforms are a good way to put money earned illegally back into normal circulation. And with numerous gambling operators based in jurisdictions outside Germany, the issue is further complicated.

"There is no exchange of information between the countries. No one can find out where the money is coming from. But it can be paid out to the casino's owners in a perfectly legal way," he explained.

Fiedler also turned the attention to the words of the Italian senior public prosecutor Roberto Scarpinato, known for his fight against Mafia operations, who said that "unbelievable" sums of money were flowing between Italy and Germany, and that Germany is one of the most sought-after countries for money laundering.

This was confirmed by Swiss money laundering expert Andreas Frank, who also assessed the apparent lack of reaction from politicians or any subsequent follow up as appalling. He also agreed that the confused gambling laws in Germany make detection and enforcement more difficult, adding that the German anti-money laundering laws are inadequate for the task.

Another comment on the matter arrived from Sebastian Fiedler of the Federal Union of German Detectives who noted that the whole situation is not just a matter of controlling legal online gambling whilst stamping out illegal operators.

"We do not have any criminal procedure against illegal Internet games. There are no penalties," he said, cautioning that illegal gambling market is blooming in the country due to the lack of both political will and enforcement personnel.

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