Internet Bingo and Money Laundering-A Bad Idea !

The internet bingo world is aghast at the news that an internet bingo site in Guatemala may have been used to launder tens of millions in drug trafficking profits.  According to the US Department of the Treasury Department Marllory Dadiana Chacon Rossell is the most prolific drug dealer in Central America. US authorities say that Rossell is responsible for the transshipment of tens of thousands of kilos of cocaine into the United States each month. As the violence escalates due to drug cartels American authorities are targeting the big fish in Central American nations to try to break the chain. In this particular case Rossell, four businesses and three individuals have been targeted.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said that the group’s US assets have been seized and measures have been taken to prohibit Americans from doing business with the business entities and individuals in the group. The group has operations throughout Central America. OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin stated “Marllory Chacon’s drug trafficking activities and her ties to the Mexican drug cartels make her a critical figure in the narcotics trade. By designating Chacon, OFAC is disrupting those activities and closing off from the U.S. financial system the network of companies aiding Chacon’s illicit activities.”

Internet bingo players will be interested in one aspect of this strange case. Rossell laundered tens of millions through her internet bingo site ‘Bingoton Millonario.’ According to the site’s Facebook page Bingoton Millonario is a “family lottery” which uses its revenues to finance maternal-infant health and education programs for impoverished Guatemalans. The bingo site, Bingoton Millonario, looks much like any other legitimate bingo operation but has a dark secret. The news has shocked many internet bingo players and so far this is the first case of an internet bingo site being used to launder money from criminal activities. In most licensing jurisdictions internet bingo sites must adhere to strict regulations and their software must undergo stringent testing procedures. They must also keep accurate tax records.

The Treasury Department coordinated the investigation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration. The action is part of a plan to apply financial pressure to foreign drug traffickers and their organizations. Penalties for violation of the US Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million for each violation to severe criminal penalties. Penalties for executives can include up to 30 years in jail and fines of $5 million.