Bulgaria Tightens Money Laundering Controls in the Gambling Industry

The National Revenue Agency of Bulgaria (NRA), created a new unit called “Prevention and Counter Action Against Money Laundering”. This is an important part of the government commission responsible for overseeing the gambling industry in the country.

These changes have been included in the updated gambling regulatory framework establishing the authority of the director of the National Revenue Agency as the supreme legal entity over all gambling enterprises in Bulgaria.

The Law for AML Protective Measures (APM)  defines the NRA as the agency responsible for overseeing all licensed gambling operators in the country.

Recently, Bulgaria has strengthened its measures by conducting a comprehensive National Risk Assessment in conjunction with the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering, as well as with the monitoring body of MONEYVAL, the Council of Europe, responsible for ensuring compliance with international standards for the prevention of money laundering.

In February 2023, the assessment was subject to an internal review, which took into account the shortcomings in the area of ​​strengthening the fight against money laundering in Bulgaria, identified by MONEYVAL and other members of the monitoring team in their initial report. This has led to the proposal of additional amendments to the APM law in order to eliminate these shortcomings.

To more clearly define the responsibilities of licensed gambling providers in the country, the National Regulatory Authority’s latest comment on anti-money laundering measures clarifies: “Organizers of gambling activities will keep current information about their clients and their activity, periodically upgrading their databases where necessary. 

“When it is impossible to clarify the origins of funds, and in cases where two or more identification mechanisms show conflicting results, organizers of gambling activities are obliged to demand a written declaration from the customer or a party that represents them where they explain in detail the funds’ origin. Any violations are to be immediately reported to the Financial Reconnaissance unit of the National Security State Agency.”

The FATF completed its review in June this year, noting improvements in Bulgaria’s overall fight against money laundering. However, it remains unclear whether the country will be included in the FATF’s gray list of jurisdictions that pose an increased risk of criminal activity.

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