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Money laundering inr acing unlikely.

Byline: Peter Scargill

BRITISH racing is a poor medium for money laundering and is unlikely to suffer a scandal similar to that which has engulfed Europe's biggest bank HSBC, according to senior industry figures.

A US Senate report released on Tuesday concluded that HSBC has ignored warning signs that its global operations were being used to launder money from Mexican drug cartels and international terrorists.

While such organisations may not be expected to use British racecourses and institutions to launder money, British racing has been seen as an area where criminal gangs could move around cash through the betting ring and similar areas.

However, such claims are rubbished by bookmaker John Henwood, who has been a rails layer for over 30 years and believes racing has other areas it should be more concerned about.

"These claims get bandied about but in all my time making a book on the rails I don't know of any cases of money laundering and that's an unequivocal fact," said Henwood.

"Racing's got a lot more to worry about than if there are any isolated cases of money laundering."

Henwood's assertions were backed up by Tim Moore, chief executive of Administration of Gambling on Tracks Ltd, the body responsible for the administration of racecourse bookmakers and the conduct of on-course betting, who said that the betting ring is regarded as a poor area to attempt money laundering.

He said: "All bookmakers are obliged to make Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) to the Serious Organised Crime Agency if they suspect that the proceeds of crime are being used to place bets.

"However, the ring is not seen as a good place to launder money. The National Joint Pitch Council inspectorate, which undertook a year-long investigation into money laundering in 2000-01, found no evidence of its existence then and the lack of SARs would seem to confirm that it is no different now."

Attempts to launder money off the track through racing's financial organisations are also seen as unlikely with Weatherbys bank pointing to a high proportion of domestic clients limiting the likelihood of individuals using the bank for nefarious activities.

Roger Weatherby, chief executive of Weatherbys Bank, said: "We take money laundering incredibly seriously. For us, we are a UK-centric bank and have most of our business in the UK, only ten per cent of our business is international. It seems that HSBC's problems came from offshore operations in high-risk countries.

"We can see what the money coming in and going out is doing. From a money laundering point of view authorities want you to know where the money is going and to recognise comings or goings that are not expected and in view of British racing and ourselves we are in a unique position of knowing what's going on."

Should matters of money laundering be suspected in British racing the cases would fall outside the remit of the BHA according to Paul Scotney, director of integrity, compliance and licensing.

Scotney maintained that there had been no reports of money laundering within the last year, and added: "Money laundering is a criminal offence and as such an issue for the police. Were we to receive any evidence of money laundering taking place within Racing we would refer the matter to the police."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 19, 2012
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