Sunday March 29,2015 : 666BET DIRECTOR ARRESTED IN £21 MILLION FRAUD CASE
Paul Bell arrested on the Isle of Man, but online gambling firm says it is not involved.
The UK Gambling Commission's recent suspension of online gambling company MetroPlay-666Bet's licence last week has been followed by the news that director of companies Paul Bell is being questioned by police in connection with an alleged £21 million fraud and money-laundering case.
Reporting on the case over the weekend, the Sunday Independent newspaper revealed that Bell is a director of 666Bet, an online gambling company associated with two English Premier League football teams.
One of the football teams sponsored by 666Bet, Leyton Orient, has terminated its association with the company.
Apparently Bell was arrested at Heathrow airport last week as part of a joint HM Revenue & Customs and National Crime Agency investigation.
Six other people were also arrested, 13 properties were raided and £1 million in cash seized as part of Operation Bannock, an HMRC-led investigation involving police officers from across the UK, as well as investigators on the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
Bell was later released by police before being re-arrested the following day when he arrived on the Isle of Man by private jet, the Independent reports.
Contacted by the newspaper, 666Bet manager Neil Andrews said the investigation does not "relate to 666Bet's activities in the gaming world" and assured the Independent that the enquiry has nothing to do with the operational activities of 666Bet.
Nevertheless, the 666Bet website remains closed due to "maintenance", although The Sunday Independent is at pains to point out that there is no suggestion that Metro Play Ltd, 666Bet or Metro Play, are involved in the HMRC investigation.
The Gambling Commission declined to comment any further than its announcement last week that it has suspended the MetroPlay-666Bet licence pending the completion of an enquiry into the suitability of the company to hold a UK licence.
Most of the Independent's article details a variety of individuals who have become owners of Brit football clubs and how they conducted themselves in the business.
The report notes that Bell, a former stock broker and investor who is a shareholder in several FTSE-listed companies, is believed to have a personal wealth of around £400 million.
He has "vigorously" denied any wrongdoing.
The Independent claims that it has seen documents from the Isle of Man Financial Crime Unit which list Bell as an individual who is currently “part of an active criminal investigation”, along with three other individuals and 25 firms.