On 18 December 2017, the National Bureau of Investigations of the Slovenian Police, supported by the Croatian Police and Europol, have dismantled an international crime syndicate involved in sports corruption and illegal betting. The network had created an illegal web-platform in order to convey large bets on major Asian bookmakers. In total, 13 house searches and 15 vehicles searches in different locations in Slovenia and Croatia have been carried out.
The investigation began in March 2017, when the Slovenian police realised that an organised crime group had created different websites as part of an online illegal betting platform used to place bets on manipulated sport events that took place in multiple European countries. The criminals are suspected of being involved in attempts to fix professional football matches in at least Serbia, FYROM and the Czech Republic. The organised criminal group behind these activities has been betting primarily on the Asian market, where they were guaranteed considerable financial gains by knowing the end result of the matches.
The illegal betting platform had been designed in such a way to ensure total anonymity of the financial transactions. Different members of the group transferred the money through several virtual currency exchange systems such as Skrill or Paysafe. The money earned through illegal betting was transferred to an Internet-operated bank (Alternative Banking Platform) and then transferred to different off-shore shell companies used to disguise the proceeds of crime from the real beneficiaries. The ring developed synergies with other top criminal groups in different countries in order to invest money gained from other serious crimes, including drug trafficking.
In total, 11 house searches and 13 vehicle searches were carried out in Slovenia, alongside two house searches and two vehicle searches in Croatia, resulting in the arrest of 11 members of the organised crime group and the seizure of 35 computers and IT devices, 32 mobile phones, EUR 19 650 in cash, EUR 38 500 of counterfeit euro banknotes and 2 vehicles. All of the suspects are accused of organised crime, sports corruption and illegal betting.
Sergio D’Orsi – Specialist of Europol’s Analysis Project Sports Corruption said: "Sports Corruption is a serious crime and a truly global phenomenon carried out by organised crime groups, most often operating cross-border. This international investigation has shown the level of sophistication reached by certain criminal networks involved in sports corruption which use new modi operandi to generate large illegal profits and invest money also coming from other serious crimes. International police cooperation is fundamental to disrupt such criminal networks. Our support to the investigation has surely given an added value to our Member States thanks to Europol’s unique analytical resources and expertise, and its high-level of engagement in this field."
Darko Majhenič – Director of National Bureau of Investigations of the Slovenian Police said: "Slovenian Police is committed to pursue corruption in sport and Illegal betting in the region. Cooperation among Europol member countries and support of Europol have helped our skilled investigators to handle the workload. Investigators all over Europe will benefit from evidence gathered today."
Europol has supported the investigation since the beginning by providing continued analytical support. On the action day, three Europol experts were deployed to Slovenia to provide on-the-spot assistance including real-time cross-checks and analysis of data gathered during the action.