AML Investigation

888 suspends its VIP operations in the Middle East due to an ongoing AML investigation: CEO Itai Panzer announces

January 30, 2023 | Philip Conneller

London Stock Exchange witnessed a drop in the shares of 88, an online Casino, to 27% here on Monday. The Gibraltar-based online gambling portal’s ex-CEO Itai Pazner announced the suspension of VIP operations in the Middle East due to an ongoing investigation against Money-Laundering.

888’s Statement

“It has been noticed that the best practices of KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) are not practiced in the Middle East region for VIP gamblers. Furthermore, the board expects a 3% decrease in revenue with the suspension of VIP operations being continued. We are isolating the suspension of VIP operations to the Middle East Region only.”

Also, 888 faced the biggest hit in terms of stock losses in a single day due to this suspension. 888’s Board now decides to lay off Itai Pazner on an interim basis and appoint Lord Jonathan Mendelsohn as the chairman. Furthermore, CEO Yariv Dafna will remain in the seat till the end of this year.

Past hits on 888

After serving as the top executive at 888 for a notable four-year tenure, Pazner's experience includes stints as COO and a six-year run as VP of the company's B2C division.

However, 888 faced severe consequences for its shortcomings in social responsibility and anti-money laundering protocols, with the UK Gambling Commission imposing a record-breaking fine of £9.4 million (US$11.6 million) in 2022. This hefty penalty followed another substantial fine of £7.8 million (US$9.5 million) four and a half years prior, highlighting the company's repeated failures to protect its customers.

Andrew Rhodes, CEO of the UKGC, warned that any future violations by 888 would prompt the regulator to reevaluate the company's suitability to maintain its license and ensure the safety and integrity of the gambling industry.

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