William Hill to pay £6.2m in penalties for money laundering and social responsibility failures

A London branch of bookmaker William Hill who, the Gambling Commission has announced, is to pay a £6.2m penalty package for

A London branch of bookmaker William Hill who, the Gambling Commission has announced, is to pay a £6.2m penalty package for "systemic social responsibility and money laundering failures". Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

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The gambling industry watchdog is ordering William Hill to pay penalties totalling £6.2m for “systematic social responsibility and money laundering failures”.

An investigation by the Gambling Commission revealed that the bookmaker breached anti-money laundering and social responsibility regulations between November 2014 and August 2016.

It also found senior management failed to mitigate risks or to have sufficient staff to ensure processes for adhering to regulations were effective.

As a result of the failures 10 customers were allowed to deposit large sums of money, linked to criminal offences, which saw gains for William Hill of more than £1.2m.

Executive director of the Gambling Commission Neil McArthur said it would use the “full range” of enforcement powers to ensure gambling is fairer and safer.

“This was a systemic failing at William Hill which went on for nearly two years and today’s penalty package – which could exceed £6.2m – reflects the seriousness of the breaches,” he said.

“Gambling businesses have a responsibility to ensure that they keep crime out of gambling and tackle problem gambling - and as part of that they must be constantly curious about where the money they are taking is coming from.”

The body said some of the issues it found included the bookmaker not adequately seeking information about the source of punters’ funds or establishing whether they were problem gamblers.

Examples of failures included one customer being allowed to deposit £654,000 over nine months without any checks being carried out.

The Gambling Commission said the customer lived in rented accommodation and was employed within the accounts department of a business – earning around £30,000 a year.

As a result of the investigation William Hill will have to pay more than £5m for breaching regulations and divest itself of the £1.2m it earned from transactions with the 10 customers.

The Gambling Commission also said that, where victims of the 10 customers who used cash linked to crime are identified, they will be reimbursed.

If further incidents of failures relating to the case emerge, William Hill must also strip itself of any money made from these transactions.

According to the body, the bookmaker will also have to appoint external auditors to review the effectiveness and implementation of its anti-money laundering and social policies and procedures, and share findings with the wider industry.

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