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Online Casino News - June, 2009

Antigua & Barbuda's Offshore Operations Under Fire


  Seed Newsvine

by Devon Chappell, News Staff Writer

June 21, 2009

After the United States passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and decided to cease honoring its obligations under a WTO treaty, the tiny Caribbean island of Antigua & Barbuda raised up a ruckus and even went so far to take the U.S. to international court. What certainly seemed to be a warranted course of action - drumming up support for Antigua and its online gambling industry - is sure to fall on deaf ears now that the Head of Antigua's Financial Services Regulatory Commission (the same branch that regulates licensed online casinos) has been implicated in a pyramid scheme scandal.

Perhaps U.S. authorities knew this all along - what the rest of the world didn't know. Shortly following Antigua's claim for U.S. financial compensation with the WTO, U.S. authorities uncovered a multi-billion dollar banking scam that was being orchestrated by billionaire, Allen Stanford, whose banking operations were largely situated on the Caribbean island.

Now, U.S. banking authorities are saying that the Commissioner of Antigua's Financial Services Regulatory Commission, Leroy King, knew about the scheme, overlooking financial irregularities and making fabricating audits that were for the sake of appearances. King is even being implicated with receiving bribe money from Stanford.

It cannot be overstated just how damaging this news has been to Antigua, and may continue to be for that matter. Orginally left off the UK Gambling Commission's white-list (which allows online casinos licensed in Antigua to advertise in the UK), but later instated after Antigua's insistence it deserved to be white-listed, the Financial Services Committee has taken a chip in its credibility, and will need to do some serious restructuring if it seeks to establish a good reputation with the international online gambling community once again.

Although the allegations against Mr. King do not imply any wrong doing's in the area of regulating online casinos, Mr. King's association with this department simply cannot be denied. As the Attorney General of Antigua, Justin Simon, said, Mr. King's actions once again place offshore business activities in Antigua under intense international scrutiny, and will certainly have an adverse effect on the Caribbean island's struggling economy. Simon also attempted to reassure the international community and local businesses that Leroy King had been temporarily dismissed and that a formal investigation is already underway.



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