Monday, 15 February 2016

My response on FOBTS/money laundering to ABB CEO Malcolm George

Dear Malcolm,

Thank you for your very speedy response to the question I tabled regarding potential incidents of money laundering in betting shops.

Diluting the 633 suspected incidents among data from across the whole UK economy does not diminish any concerns held about the existence of and potential for money laundering in betting shops. Your response on the 21st of January was unfortunately followed 7 days later by another major incident of money laundering in Liverpool using betting shops.
You also make a point I cannot fathom; that the number of SAR’s submitted by circa 9,000 betting shops is much less than those submitted by the circa 140 casinos. Rationally it would be expected to be the reverse? This enhances my concern that betting shops are in fact not submitting SAR’s in all cases of suspicious activity as appears to have been the case in the Coral north east incident and a recent case in Yorkshire where a drug dealer was found with £36k of FOBT receipts by the Police. These failures have already been raised by the Gambling Commission.

It would be helpful if the ABB resisted declaring that the number of SARs submitted by betting shops is low when the evidence points to lack of controls and detection by betting operators, a particularly high risk posed by FOBTs and therefore the inference that the 633 submissions are actually the tip of the iceberg.

Your members are determined to be excluded from the EU Money Laundering Directive 4 which would bring tighter controls particularly over FOBTs, in cash transactions carried out on them. I and many others see your point of view but disagree. Such an inclusion has to be welcomed when such machines are described as presenting a “high inherent money laundering risk” by the Gambling Commission.

Look forwards to seeing you soon and catching up on this and other issues where we perhaps have more in common!

Kind regards,

Graham Jones MP