Posted on: April 19, 2022, 07:26h.
Final up to date on: April 19, 2022, 07:29h.
The chair of a UK Playing Fee committee that final month awarded the nation’s Nationwide Lottery contract to Allwyn Leisure was beforehand a giant deal in Russia’s finance sector, The Mail on Sunday has realized.
That’s controversial as a result of Allwyn is owned by Czech billionaire Karol Komarek, who additionally has enterprise ties to Russia.
Komarek joint-owns an underground fuel storage facility within the Czech Republic in a 50-50 partnership with the state-owned Russian vitality big, Gazprom. He has publicly condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On March 15, the Nationwide Lottery Competitors Committee (NLCC) named Allwyn as its most well-liked bidder for the lottery, one of many UK’s most profitable public sector contracts.
However in keeping with the MoS, from 2005 to 2008, its chair, Stephen Cohen, ran the hedge fund arm of Troika Dialog, as soon as described as “the Kremlin’s most well-liked funding financial institution.” Whereas there, he labored beneath Andrey Sharonov, Putin’s former deputy financial minister.
Cohen was additionally a director of monetary middleman EG Capital Advisors from 2017 to 2021. EG is managed by Igor and Alexander Mints. Their father is exiled Russian oligarch Boris Mints.
Russia Ties Undeclared
Regardless of this, there isn't any point out of Cohen’s Russian connections in his biography on the UKGC web site and so they have been additionally omitted from the federal government announcement of his appointment in 2020. Nor does Cohen point out Russia anyplace on his LinkedIn web page.
Whereas there isn't any suggestion of wrongdoing by Cohen, the dearth of transparency might strengthen the claims of dropping bidders who're already difficult the choice.
Camelot Group, which has operated the lottery since its 1994 inception, filed authorized proceedings in opposition to the UKGC in London’s Excessive Court docket earlier this month. Its grievance focuses on allegations that the regulator modified the foundations within the ultimate weeks of the choice course of to profit Allwyn.
Italian lottery operator Sisal, lately acquired by Flutter Leisure, is believed to be contemplating becoming a member of the Camelot lawsuit.
In the meantime, one other defeated bidder, British billionaire Richard Desmond, launched a authorized problem of his personal final week.
“That is such a giant resolution, all of this have to be fully above board, notably as the choice is being challenged and given the corporate awarded the license has its owns hyperlinks to Russia,” Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith informed the MoS.
“That is essential given what has been taking place politically in Russia for a very long time. I’m stunned to search out the chairman of the committee has Russian connections that aren't declared,” he added.
In an announcement, a UKGC spokesperson stated data concerning candidates was anonymized through the board’s ultimate the choice, wehich created “a good and clear course of was in place to solely determine the applying that finest meets the wants of the Nationwide Lottery.”