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$4 million for violating U.S. external bribery laws by circulating payments to Russian-based consultants.
Platter Entertainment PLC, the owner of PokerStars, FanDual, Paddy Power and other brands and game mogul, has begun an agreement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC alleges that Starz Group, the former owner of PokerStars, committed “book and record and internal accounting controls violations” arising from the use of third-party consultants at Toronto-based Russian Entertainment Group in 2020.
Pay $8.9 million over 5 years:
The SEC announced a settlement on Monday and announced that Stars Group had paid about $8.9 million to a Russian-based consultant for supporting the company’s operations and efforts to legalize poker in Russia. The SEC’s administrative procedures claim to have been paid between May 2015 and May 2020. It claims the procedure also included the repayment of futures to Russian-based individuals.
$4 million in fines and inheritance claims:
Flout neither acknowledged nor rejected the SEC’s claims in administrative proceedings, but agreed to suspend future violations and pay a $4 million fine. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the company said it was satisfied with the conclusion of the matter. “This is a legacy issue related to Flout’s transfer of ownership of the Star Group,” a spokesperson said. “After acquiring TSG, we have made significant changes to implement Flute’s control framework over existing standards,” it added
Repayment of gift and consulting costs:
The SEC said some of the five-year payments made by the Stars Group to third parties based in Russia represented New Year gifts to Russian government officials. Other parts of the financial assets were used to repay money paid by consultants to Russian state agencies that administer Internet censorship filters.
The company thus violated the provisions of the U.S. Overseas Bribery Act requiring the company to keep proper books and records and control of internal accounting.
The SEC encouraged Flutter’s possible collaboration during the proceedings, the company’s agility in providing facts developed through its own internal investigation, and to provide respective evidence to parties outside the SEC authority. The gaming company also followed the SEC’s findings to improve internal accounting controls and compliance. U.S. authorities have also acknowledged Flutter Entertainment’s withdrawal from Russia following last year’s invasion of Ukraine.