Following Italy’s “Operation Galaxy,” where authorities seized €400 million ($433 million) in assets linked to organized crime, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has strongly denied any connection to the criminal mastermind behind the illegal gambling ring. In an official statement, the MGA affirmed its commitment to cooperating with authorities and closely monitoring the case.
The ongoing probe, Operation Galaxy, uncovered a criminal scheme involving online gaming services facilitated through Malta-registered companies. The investigation revealed that the previously unnamed kingpin behind the illegal gambling ring was Antonio Ricci, an Italian in his late 40s, who allegedly held a prominent management position at a licensed iGaming company.
Ricci, previously arrested by Maltese police in April 2019 on charges of money laundering for the mafia, resided in Malta since at least 2010. However, he was deported to Italy and is currently restricted to his town of residence.
Italian police recently seized approximately €400 million in assets linked to three connected iGaming companies with ties to Ricci. Initial reports suggested that Ricci was directly involved with at least one of these businesses, using it as a front to launder significant sums obtained from illegal gambling rings across Europe.
Operation Galaxy also uncovered that Ricci’s organization projected its influence abroad through companies with offices in several European jurisdictions, evading Italian tax authorities and attracting new customers with the help of criminal organizations.
In response to the case’s implications, the MGA refuted any involvement with Ricci, clarifying that he had no association with any iGaming company licensed by the MGA. The regulator emphasized its close contact with local and international authorities and its commitment to closely monitoring any further developments.
The MGA’s swift clarification highlights its dedication to ensuring the integrity of its licensed operators and dissociating from any connections with criminal elements. As the investigation continues, regulatory bodies like the MGA must remain vigilant in upholding the credibility of the gambling industry, fostering a secure environment for operators and players.