Bulgaria ramps up AML measures to protect gambling sector

Bulgarian betting working with tax and security authorities on AML improvement
Credit: Todor Dinchev, Shutterstock

The National Revenue Agency (NRA) of Bulgaria has formed a new branch titled “Prevention and Counter Action Against Money Laundering” – part of the government’s commission that oversees gambling activity in the country. 

This is part of the list of changes introduced to Bulgaria’s gambling regulatory framework in 2020 that place the Director of the NRA as the ultimate legal authority over all gambling ventures in Bulgaria. The Law for AML Protective Measures (APM) designates the NRA itself as the body that must exercise control over all licensed gambling providers in the country. 

Bulgaria has recently ramped up its crime fighting efforts against money laundering, having undergone a complete National Risk Assessment with the cooperation of the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and MONEYVAL – the Council of Europe’s monitoring body that ensures compliance with international AML standards. 

The assessment was internally reevaluated in February 2023, taking into account the oversights in Bulgaria’s defence against money laundering flagged down by MONEYVAL and the rest of the monitoring group in their initial report, ending up in proposed additional amendments to the APM law aimed at addressing these weaknesses.  

In order to bring more clarity around the responsibilities of licensed gambling providers in the country, the NRA’s latest comment on AML measures explains: “Organisers of gambling activities (OGAs) will keep current information about their clients and their activity, periodically upgrading their databases where necessary. 

“When it is impossible to clarify the origins of funds, and in cases where two or more identification mechanisms show conflicting results, OGAs are obliged to demand a written declaration from the customer or a party that represents them where they explain in detail the funds’ origin. Any violations are to be immediately reported to the Financial Reconnaissance unit of the National Security State Agency.” 

The FATF concluded its review in June of this year by registering improvements in Bulgaria’s overall fight against money laundering, but it remains to be seen whether the country will be placed in FATF’s grey list of jurisdictions that exhibit increased risk of criminal activity.