On 24th July, OCCRP published an article about Planetwin365 – one of Italy’s top gambling operators in a hotly contested sports-betting industry, commanding about 13% of the market. The company is controlled by a Dutch investment fund with a global portfolio, a commercial success story that OCCRP says has a dark side, with long-standing ties to organised crime. In November 2018, Italian law enforcement officers charged more than 60 people as part of an investigation of mafia infiltration of the gambling sector, including Planetwin365’s 4 founders. However, Planetwin365 was never shut down, and the company’s current gaming licences from Italy and Malta have not been suspended or revoked. The 4 founders – Paolo Carlo Tavarelli, Ivana Ivanovic, Giuseppe Decandia and Paolo Sipone – have been charged with tax evasion, fraud, and “aiding a mafia-type organisation”. A year before the Italian police raids, the brand was acquired by new owners when a Dutch private equity fund called Ramphastos Investments Group NV purchased the controlling company, SKS365 Malta Holding. OCCRP claims that the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI) and OCCRP have obtained evidence that raises questions about Planetwin365’s activities and ties — even after the change in ownership.
The article also claims that SKS365 was not the only troubled Italian business acquired by Ramphastos. In 2017, the Dutch fund bought a majority stake in Talenta Labs, a casino game designer founded by brothers Moreno and Massimiliano Rizzo. OCCRP says that the latter had been found guilty 6 months earlier of charges related to illegal gambling activities and sentenced to prison. Prosecutors said Rizzo acted as a contact for ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate boss, Rocco Femia. While Rizzo was initially cleared of mafia association charges by a judge, that ruling was appealed in October 2017, after Femia turned into an informant and provided new evidence. The appeals trial started earlier this month.
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