The trillion-dollar gambling game

Is the Premier League used as part of an unprecedented money-laundering operation?

By Philippe Auclair

Far Eastern gambling operators of whom almost nothing is known have become ubiquitous presences in the English game over the past decade. Mysterious brands invest millions in shirt sponsorships and commercial partnerships each season, often for a year or two before disappearing and being replaced by other operators which are just as mysterious. The opacity of these companies, predominantly operating from the Philippines, is such that they are widely suspected to be used for money-laundering schemes on a bewildering scale: it is estimated that 1 trillion US dollars of untraceable money is bet through unregulated bookmakers annually.

Yet, despite the regulations put in place by the British Gambling Commission, these operators have escaped all scrutiny. To avoid the gaze of the regulators, all they have to do is to use an intermediary which will obtain a UK licence for them – through a so-called "white label" agent, of which one, TGP Europe Ltd, based in the Isle of Man tax haven, dominates the British market. There they can then hide in plain sight with no fear of investigation, sponsoring club shirts and becoming 'partners' of some of the biggest clubs in the world. Josimar can now reveal, following a year-long investigation conducted with the help of gambling industry insiders, the true nature of this business and how English football has turned a blind eye to the origin of the tainted money on which it relies to a greater extent than ever before.

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