EC updates list of high-risk nations for enhanced checks on gamblers

EC updates list of high-risk nations for enhanced checks on gamblers

New countries on the EC list include Morocco, Myanmar, the Philippines and Senegal.

Belgium.- The European Commission has updated its list of high-risk countries whose citizens must subject to stricter checks by gambling operators. New additions on the list include Morocco, Myanmar, the Philippines and Senegal.

The executive branch of the European Union first published its list in 2016 under EU Directive 2015/849, Article 9 which has since been updated several times. It identifies high-risk countries that have deficiencies in their approaches to countering anti-money laundering and terrorism financing according to criteria defined by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Gambling operators based in the European Union that offer services to countries on the list, or have customers from those counties, must carry out tighter checks. The new countries added to the list are Burkina Faso, the Cayman Islands, Haiti, Jordan, Malo, Morocco, Myanmar, the Philippines, Senegal and South Sudan.

Already on the list were Afghanistan, Barbados, Cambodia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Jamaica, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

When adding countries to the list, the EC identifies their risk profile and level of threat and analyses the local legal framework and its application in eight areas. This includes the criminalisation of money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, customer due diligence requirements, record keeping and reporting of suspicious financial transactions. It also evaluates the procedures and sanctions imposed in the case of breaches.

In March, the FATF decided to keep Malta on its grey list of untrustworthy jurisdictions. However, it has suggested that the country is close to coming off the list.

It recognised that Malta had made significant reforms through its action plan after it was grey listed last year and had increased its use of the Financial Intelligence Unit’s (FIU) services to pursue money laundering and criminal tax cases.

However, the body said that an on-site review would be needed to ensure the AML measures were being implemented before Malta could be removed from the grey list.

Meanwhile, several jurisdictions have warned operators to step up checks in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Both the Malta Gaming Authority and Britain’s Gambling Commission warned operators to ensure they apply checks to comply with sanctions against Russia following its invasion of its neighbour.

EGBA creates cyber security expert group

Last month, the  European Gaming and Betting Association created a new expert group on cyber security to facilitate information sharing on cyber threats and attacks among its members and to promote cooperation to track and resolve incidents and identify and solve security vulnerabilities.

The group will comprise cyber security experts from EGBA member operators, with a Memorandum of Understanding to allow for data sharing between the different operators. Participation will be open to all members. The group will also seek to research and implement best practices on cyber security.

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