CBK to now monitor suspicious bets

Betting firms have been flagged as a potential avenue for money laundering

Sports enthusiasts watch different games on screens while betting at a sports betting shop in July 15, 2019 in Nairobi.  (Photo by SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Mega jackpots offered by betting companies have been red flagged by the government as a potential avenue for money laundering.

In a bid to rule out any potential fraud, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has announced it will start monitoring punters who deal with large transactions.

The CBK has settled on these specific punters as they have a tendency to put large amounts of money in their betting wallets but stake only a small fraction of it. CBK will also monitor those making small, regular and suspicious bets.

According to the report, the risk of betting companies laundering billions of shillings is quite high, therefore the state recommends applying more pressure on the firms to reveal their source of cash.

“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,” read the report in part.

The current highest mega jackpot is Sh250 million, however, the Government is pushing for higher taxes not only on the companies but also the punters.

It should be noted that according to the Gambling Act of 2020, betting firms are not obliged to report any suspicious transactions to the Financial Reporting Centre (FRC), the body tasked with monitoring and reporting illicit transactions.

However, FRC in 2020 did flag betting company, SportPesa as a potential front for money laundering.

They accused the betting company of wiring Sh33.3Billion from their local accounts to offshore banks.

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