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The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has denied any of its licensees are connected to a figure identified by the Italian police as associated with the ‘Ndrangheta mafia.

Last week, Italian police announced they had seized €400m in assets from a figure linked to the ‘Ndrangheta mafia, as part of its ongoing “Operation Galaxy”, investigating links between organised crime and gambling.

According to the authorities, the individual was part of a criminal scheme involving the provision of online gaming services through Malta-registered companies.  

On Friday (2 Feb), the MGA clarified that that the individual was not connected to any Malta-licensed iGaming company.  

“The authority would like to clarify that the individual being named at the centre of the operation, Antonio Ricci, has no connection with the MGA and he does not, in any capacity, form part of the ownership structures of any gaming company that is licensed by the MGA.

“The authority continuously liaises with both local and foreign authorities and will continue to monitor any further developments.”

The police said the criminal enterprise was de-facto controlled through Reggio Calabria, a town often considered a ‘Ndrangheta stronghold.

From this location, a network of registered companies across Europe was run, involving offices in Romania, Austria and Spain.

Who is Antonio Ricci?

Antonio Ricci, now revealed to be the previously unnamed criminal figure allegedly at the heart of ‘Ndrangheta’s iGaming operations, is an Italian national in his late 40s.

Ricci was first arrested by Maltese police in April 2019, after the Italian authorities accused him of laundering mafia money.

The individual had been living on the island since at least 2010 with his family, and claimed he worked in electronic goods.

After a tumultuous legal battle, Ricci was eventually deported to Italy. According to the police he is currently forbidden from leaving the town where he resides.

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