Jackpots Flagged As Money Laundering Pits

The popular payouts by betting companies were singled out as money laundering risks in a report

The mega jackpots paid to Kenyan gamblers have been mentioned as potential channels for laundering the proceeds of theft, drug sales, and terrorism. 

The popular payouts by betting companies were singled out as money laundering risks in a report on the risks of money laundering that Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i released on Wednesday. 

The State believes there is a high probability that the owners of betting companies will use the businesses to launder billions of shillings. 

This might put more pressure on the government to release more information about the funds used to pay jackpots, which peaked at Sh250 million during a betting craze that defied government efforts to crack down by imposing higher taxes on both the companies and the players.

However, the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC), which is tasked with tracking illicit cash, is not required by law to receive reports of suspicious transactions from betting companies.

The Central Bank of Kenya will also be keeping an eye out for bettors making large transactions, loading money into their betting wallets and only wagering a small portion of it, as well as those placing regular, small, and suspicious bets (CBK).

“The risks for money laundering were assessed to be high for the owners of betting firms,” says the report.

“The money laundering risk was noted where proceeds from sports betting could be co-mingled with funds from predictable crimes and passed off as genuine winnings with a possible collusion on who takes the winnings which are later either reverted into the syndicate or transferred outside the country,” adds the report.

Kenya has been fingered for illicit money entering the country from crime, drugs, corruption and shady business activities, illustrated by homes in leafy suburbs and luxury cars.