NZ Internet betting system “no money-laundry”

The New Zealand Totalizator Agency Board (TAB) dismisses suggestions that its Internet betting system is likely to be used for money laundering, but admits customers have attempted suspicious activities of that kind.

“There is potential for (laundering),” said Paul Alpe of the TAB’s audit department. “But we have safeguards against it in the form of exception reporting software.”

These programs will highlight, for example, anyone who is not betting but simply depositing money into, and withdrawing it, from their TAB account, he said. This would enable the customer to deposit tainted money, then later withdraw it and represent it as legal winnings. But “we don’t allow people to use us as a bank,” said Alpe.

If someone appears to be doing that, the TAB first sends the suspect a warning letter; if they persist, it closes the account.

“We have done this ever since we have had a computer system” and long before Internet betting was possible, he said.

Moreover, since the passage of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act (1996), the TAB and other organizations have been required (under Section 15 of that act) to report suspicious transactions to the police.

Alpe dismissed a widely circulated story of an account holder who deposited NZ$1 million (US$399,000), withdrawing it shortly afterwards without spending any of it on bets.

“I think I know the origin of that rumor,” said Alpe. “It’s not true. A person did once try to put in a sum of that order, by electronic transfer from overseas. The transfer was stopped and the money never even arrived in the TAB account.”

He declined to say how the TAB became aware of the attempted transfer before it happened, but Computerworld understands a third party may have tipped off authorities.