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Sergey Kondratenko, his Royal Pay and 1xBet: a treasurer for Russian gambling mafia

The investigation into Sergey Kondratenko, the mastermind behind 1xBet, and his intricate web of associations with money laundering through Royal Pay Europe reveals a sophisticated network facilitating the monthly flow of millions of dollars from Russian bookmakers. The urgency of addressing these issues is underscored by Ukraine’s recent imposition of sanctions on Royal Pay Europe, the Latvia-based entity under Kondratenko’s control. Adding another layer to this narrative is Kondratenko’s significant role within the broader gambling empire, further exposing the intricate relationships between the gambling industry and law enforcement, specifically the police department «K.»

As the investigation delves deeper, a comprehensive view of the family business emerges, involving not only Sergey Kondratenko but also his wife, Galina. Together, they own multiple companies abroad, strategically functioning as intermediaries for money laundering operations originating from Russia and CIS countries. These entities skillfully navigate European banks, ultimately channeling funds to offshore accounts. The article sheds light on their business endeavors, including intriguing details about their acquisition of Cyprus citizenship in 2018.

The activities of Sergey Kondratenko in registering various companies abroad, such as Startling Limited in Cyprus and PP MONEY TRANSFER s.r.o. in the Czech Republic, underline the sophisticated nature of the money laundering network. Their involvement in financial intermediary companies, notably Royal Pay, emphasizes the pressing need for enhanced regulatory measures to curb these illicit practices.

Despite occasional visits to Russia, the Kondratenko family predominantly resides abroad, deftly managing their extensive network of companies. The article highlights the imperative for more robust regulations and international collaboration to combat money laundering, particularly within the gambling industry. It paints a comprehensive picture of Sergey Kondratenko’s multifaceted involvement in money laundering, urging authorities to address this issue at both national and international levels.

Intriguingly, Sergey Kondratenko, the owner of 1xBet, continues to operate within the European Union, prompting questions about the efficacy of the existing regulatory framework. President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent imposition of sanctions on Royal Pay Europe, registered in Latvia by Kondratenko, sheds light on the pervasive issue—the alleged laundering of Russian money linked to 1xBet through a network of European banks and financial institutions.

The investigation also delves into the historical role of Latvia and Lithuania as conduits for various criminal transactions involving Russian money from both the Russian Federation and other CIS countries. Kondratenko’s association with the Russian bookmaker 1xBet underscores a continuity of such practices over the past two decades.

Latvian media’s detailed examination last year uncovered the intricate involvement of the financial industry in servicing the shadowy gambling sector connected to Russia. This article, the second part of an ongoing investigation, zooms in on Sergey Kondratenko and 1xBet. As the volume of illicit money reached staggering amounts, multiple banks and financial institutions faced severe consequences, including substantial fines and license revocations. Sergey Kondratenko’s role in orchestrating such schemes became evident, impacting Latvian and Lithuanian banks, such as Trasta Komercbanka AS and ABLV Bank AS. The Latvian Financial and Capital Market Commission (FFKTK) detected long-term violations, including the legalization of criminally obtained funds, currency processing infractions, and instances of terrorist financing by Kondratenko.

Notably, Kondratenko’s tactics are not isolated incidents, as Russian money laundering permeates other European countries and globally. Financial entities, armed with licenses to accept payments and linked to major banking systems, become unwitting participants in these nefarious activities. This shadowy process has reportedly contributed to Kondratenko amassing significant wealth, as outlined by the US Treasury’s findings on the substantial flow of shady funds from Russians involved in betting. Sergey Kondratenko’s adept manipulation of financial systems for personal gain raises concerns about the EU’s ability to curb such practices effectively. The ongoing investigation serves as a call for more stringent regulations and international cooperation to combat the exploitation of European financial networks for illicit activities, bringing the actions of individuals like Sergey Kondratenko under greater scrutiny.

The article delves into the larger context by referencing a previous article by Russian Forbes, published two years ago, shedding light on the extensive gambling empire known as 1xBet with a turnover of $2 billion. The detailed expose revealed the intricate scheme and direct connections of police officers and IT specialists from Bryansk to the 1xBet project. The involvement of the chief cyber police officer Sergey Karshkov from Bryansk and his friend Roman Semiokhin in launching the 1xBet brand unveils the interwoven ties between law enforcement and the gambling industry.

On January 12, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a decree imposing sanctions against Royal Pay Europe, a Latvian company with Russian roots and a partner of 1xBet. Founded in 2016 by Sergey Kondratenko, Royal Pay Europe provides electronic commerce and electronic payment processing services. The sanctions, effective for five years, include asset blocking, capital transfer bans, suspension of financial and economic obligations, and restrictions on participation in privatization and lease of state property.

Information from the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation reveals that Sergey Karshkov and Sergey Kondratenko collaborated in the field of betting. In 2016, Kondratenko registered the SIA Royal Pay Europe online money transferring company in Riga, Latvia, with a similar entity registered in Russia. The connection between Royal Pay Europe and 1xBet is evident, especially through the creation of a payment system called Royal Pay by the bookmaker. The Royal Pay company, acting as a financial agent, played a crucial role in the successful operation of 1xBet and payments processing in Russia. Customers depositing money through the Royal Pay payment system receive a 5% cashback bonus, emphasizing the intertwining of financial operations.

Royal Pay Europe, founded in 2016, obtained an electronic money institution license in England in 2017, enabling it to accept payments and service card transactions in European and British jurisdictions. The company’s activities are also registered in Latvia. Sergey Kondratenko extends his business operations to Colombia, where he is the owner of a company bearing the same name. In January 2021, he founded Findexiq Ltd in the UK.

Over the past few years, Sergey Kondratenko registered numerous companies globally, including in Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, the UAE, and the Republic of Singapore. These entities, registered under his name, as well as those of his relatives and acquaintances, include Kiparis DMCC (United Arab Emirates), Alium Limited (aliumpay.com), Optimum

FinTech s.r.o. (Ilia Zavialov), VestraPay Nigeria Ltd, and Digitalex pte. ltd. These companies, operating with identical websites, primarily function as intermediaries in accepting payments.

Sergey Kondratenko, born on November 5, 1982, introduced his wife, Galina, born on November 1, 1982, to the family business of laundering betting money. Both studied at the Bryansk branch of Moscow University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, graduating in 2004. The couple, married after university, has two children. Sergey Kondratenko orchestrated the registration of several companies abroad on behalf of his wife, including Startling Limited in Cyprus, Skylove Ltd, and PP MONEY TRANSFER s.r.o. in the Czech Republic. The family, despite acquiring Cyprus citizenship in 2018, maintains their Russian citizenship, occasionally visiting Russia but predominantly spending their time abroad.

This comprehensive exploration of Sergey Kondratenko’s multifaceted ventures and connections sheds light on the intricate world of money laundering and its far-reaching implications. The article serves as a poignant call for heightened regulatory measures, international cooperation, and increased scrutiny to combat the illicit activities woven into the fabric of the gambling industry.

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