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Ukrainian Gambling Regulator Rocked By Corruption Scandal

National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine
National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine

The gambling regulator for Ukraine has become embroiled in a major corruption scandal that could change the face of betting and casino games in the country.

Police swooped to arrest a Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (KRAIL) employee earlier this week, and it has since been revealed that he or she has been accused of accepting a £65,000 bribe in return for granting licence approval.

The official is said to be a ‘high ranking’ official within the organisation, and a post on the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) has hinted that the individual in question was the former acting Chairman of the Commission.

NABU have the individual in their custody, and they will be detained under Article 208 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine until formal legal proceedings get underway.

A statement on the NABU website goes into more, and reads: “In the summer of 2021, NABU Detectives learned about the systematic acceptance of illegal benefits in particularly large amounts for the issuance of gambling permits and licenses.

“As a result, one of the Commission members asked for a 90 thousand bribe to ensure the issuance of permits to use business premises in Chernihiv and Zaporizhzhia regions for gambling purposes. In addition, he promised to ensure the issuance of gambling licenses.

“Eventually, the official (holding the post of acting Chairman of the Commission at the time of the crime) was caught red-handed.”

The post also reveals that NABU used undercover detectives in a sting-style operation to capture the individual in question, and that their officers’ investigations into a so-called organised crime network involved in the gambling sector are ongoing.

A History of Corruption

Corrupt Business Dealings

This is, unfortunately, another example of the scandal that has befallen the gambling sector in the Ukraine.

In July, KRAIL ordered that 594 illegal or unlicensed gambling websites in the country be blocked, which takes the 2021 tally alone past the 1,000 mark.

Meanwhile, an astonishing article on the London Post website reveals that the Ukrainian national police’s deputy chief, Yevheniy Shevtsov, was alleged to be a key figure in a major global crime syndicate.

The group, which also allegedly involved senior officials in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Bank of Ukraine, has reportedly been involved in illegal gambling enterprises and fraud for many years, sending their ill-gotten gains to Russia and overseas locations where it was laundered.

It has also been alleged that officials used their governmental position or influence to appropriate properties that could later be used in their scheme.

The government attempted to clean up the sector by reforming Ukrainian gambling law in 2020, and that saw KRAIL formed and led by former special forces operative Ivan Rudyi.

So far, the regulator has only issued three official licenses to Vbet, Parimatch and Cosmolot, and that scarcity has led some to take the law into their own hands.

It follows the embarrassment of the gambling sector in Ukraine being handed Presidential assent in the summer of 2020, despite the fact that agreements on taxation, licence fees and accreditation had not been confirmed.