Bulgaria’s National Revenue Agency (NRA) has launched a separate entity committed to combatting money laundering crimes within the gambling industry and ensuring compliance with the established anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. The new unit is known as the Department for Prevention and Countermeasures against Money Laundering. Its establishment follows a comprehensive evaluation of the country’s vulnerabilities carried out by a team of specialists from the NRA, the Ministry of Interior, the State Agency for National Security, the Financial Supervision Commission, and other state authorities.
The evaluation concluded that money laundering and terrorist financing were among the country’s weaknesses. The results were released earlier this year and called for the immediate establishment of a special department responsible for fighting against financial crimes within the gambling industry. Furthermore, the country will introduce amendments to the existing Anti-Money Laundering Act to address the identified loopholes and reinforce the legal structure to up the ante in the fight against money laundering.
In the past years, Bulgaria’s gambling sector has experienced unprecedented growth. This progress, however, has caused a concerning escalation in fraudulent money laundering activities. The country had remained outside the purview of international watchdogs because it was included in the MONEYVAL Committee’s advanced monitoring program. However, since its removal from the program, Bulgaria now anticipates an evaluation to determine whether it will be removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) grey list. Countries requiring continued scrutiny are usually added to the said list.
The NRA Determined to Eradicate Financial Crimes within the Gambling Industry
The NRA remains steadfast in its commitment to facilitating collaboration among citizens, organizations, and regulatory bodies. It actively encourages concerned individuals who come across suspicious money laundering incidents linked to gambling to immediately report their observations.
By establishing the Department for Prevention and Countermeasures against Money Laundering, the country aims to strengthen the implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering Measures Act and the Gambling Act. These legislative maneuvers give the NRA the crucial role of ensuring compliance with regulations and curbing unlawful financial activities within the gambling industry.
Experts from the NRA, the Ministry of Interior, the State Agency for National Security, the Financial Supervision Commission, and other relevant departments have formed the inter-ministerial working group. They have worked together to update the National Risk Assessment. The assessment, which is still in progress, is to identify emerging threats and vulnerabilities related to money laundering and terrorist financing, requiring regular audits of the assessment methodology.
The NRA reported that Bulgarian gambling operators who employ self-excluded individuals may face hefty fines ranging from BGN5,000 to BGN20,000. Bulgaria has introduced a self-exclusion register, aiming to prevent self-excluded individuals from working with gambling operators. Moreover, people who have opted to exclude themselves from gambling are not allowed to enter land-based gambling venues. As SuperCasinoSites reported previously, over 7,200 individuals have enrolled in the country’s self-exclusion register in the period between December last year and April this year.