Money-laundering conviction against Superbet principal requires AML/CFT audit – Gaming Authority – Stabroek News

Log in for full access to You can also post comments, and manage your email subscription.
Lost your password?
Only one active session is allowed per subscriber.
You don’t have an account? Sign Up
Denying that it is deliberately stalling the licensing process for sport betting service, Superbet, the Gaming Authority on Wednesday said that  the money laundering conviction against  one of the company’s principals has resulted in the need for an AML/CFT audit.
The authority did not identify the person but indicated that as a result of this information the issuance of a good standing certificate has been put on hold. The audit is expected to be completed by July 31st and the report submitted. The outcome of the audit will determine whether the certificate will be issued. Without it Superbet will be unable to get the licence it needs to operate from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
The authority’s comments come on the heels of a letter from Bank of Baroda (Guyana) Inc  threatening to suspend all business relations unless the licence is produced by May 31. Days earlier General Manager Shrikant Kisoensingh was grilled by police about the legality of the operations.
Superbet, a Suriname-based company began operations in Guyana in 2012. It now has 175 locations countrywide and employs in excess of 500 persons indirectly and directly.
Kisoensingh and his attorney Anil Nandlall have accused the authority of unfair treatment with the aim of forcing the company to close its doors.
In its press release on Wednesday, the authority said that following recent reports in the media it felt it necessary to set the record straight. It was made clear that the good standing certificate is just one of nine requirements which have to be met when applying for a Betting Shop Licence from the GRA. The other requirements are an approved building plan, approval letter from the Central Housing and Planning Authority, Fire Safety Certificate from the Guyana Fire Service, receipt of deposit made to the Accountant General, copy of certificate of incorporation, copy of identification of Directors, copy of tax identification number (TIN) certificate and a completed application form for Trade & Miscellaneous Licences.
The authority explained that prior to 2018, the letters of good standing did not form part of the process, and as such, there was no background check and due diligence done. With just the submission of the other eight requirements, the Betting Shop Licence was granted.
In 2018, to ensure due diligence for Anti-Money laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) purposes, the Minister of Finance made the Gaming Authority the Supervisory Authority for Betting Shops, however, the lawful remit for the issuing of  licensing remained with the Guyana Revenue Authority, the release added.
“The Good Standing Certificate was established by the Gaming Authority, as one of the ‘measures’ as set out under Section 22 of the AML/CFT Act (as amended) and sought to ensure that the applicants for Betting Shops licences were fit and proper, for the purpose of the said Act,” it was further explained.
The authority, it was stressed is the Supervisory Authority of Casinos, Lotteries and Betting Shops for purposes of the AML/ CFT Act … while the GRA is the Licensing Authority for Betting Shops. Section 9 (2) of the Tax Act, gives the power to license for Betting Premises to the GRA.
The authority said that Superbet applied for the certificate on September 14, 2018 and “during the course of our due diligence, the Gaming Authority in January, 2019, was provided with information, that one of the principals of Guiana Holding Inc., was convicted of money-laundering and served a four (4) year sentence.”
Pursuant to the authority’s duty, an “enhanced” due diligence was therefore activated, in keeping with the guidelines issued under the AML/CFT Act 2009 … and on February 14, 2019 a letter was sent seeking clarification from Guiana Holding Inc. (Superbet). A response was received on March 4, 2019, and steps taken to verify the information received.
According to the release, the response from Guiana Holding Inc. and additional information received by the Gaming Authority on April 5, 2019 during the verification process, after careful analysis, led to determination, that an AML/CFT audit of Superbet operations was necessary to determine the veracity of the information received. This would allow the Gaming Authority to make an informed determination on the issuing of the good standing certification.
This information was communicated to Guiana Holding Inc., on April 23rd, 2019 and they have in principle, agreed to the audit, the release said, adding that the authority has been in the process of organizing the audit team. A non-disclosure agreement has been sent to the said organization for signature and for submission of a proposal and cost.
“The Gaming Authority has made it quite clear to all applicants for Good Standing Certification, the purpose and time frames in which the activities can be concluded. They were also advised, that the due diligence process is in keeping with Section 22 of the AML/CFT Act … and is a continuous process. The certification they were advised, can be withdrawn, if any evidence is uncovered in the future, that points to any breach of the AML/CFT Act 2009 …,” it added.
Further, it was explained that the time frame is in keeping with the internationally recognized standard, which ranges from as little as six months for organizations such as, Superbet to as long as 18 months. This time frame is dependent on the depth of investigation needed to be conducted.
“Let’s this also be clear, Guiana Holdings Inc (Superbet) has to its benefit been so far compliant with all requests for additional information and documentation. It is quite unfortunate, that this issue is being played out in the public domain with the resulting domino effects,” the release said.
According to the release, the Superbet’s agreement to the audit and its compliance with requirements made this far this far has been communicated to all parties concerned, inclusive of the Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General.
It was stressed that the authority has no power to issue a Betting Shop Licence.
“The Gaming Authority is determined to bring regulation and internationally accepted standards to any form of gaming or gambling in Guyana to ensure Guyana’s success at the Mutual Evaluation in 2022 and is committed to doing so in a fair and even-handed manner. The Authority will continue to adhere to the principles of due process and natural justice in carrying out its mandate,” the release added.
Speaking to the media last Friday, Kisoensingh related that he was at his office when he received a telephone call informing him that he needed to be at CID Headquarters for 12 pm for a meeting with the Deputy Crime Chief. He was also instructed to take along all relevant documents so as to determine whether he is operating legally.
The company’s licence expired at the end of 2017.
A FREE roundup of top news from Guyana you might otherwise miss. Delivered every morning.


Leave a Comment