Mystery Over Ownership of the Park Lane Club Continues
December 3rd, 2020 3.00pm
The Park Lane Club, located in London‘s exclusive Mayfair district, was one of the most luxurious gambling establishments in the capital until its license was revoked by the UK Gambling Commission last month.
Many believed this happened because Silverbond Enterprises, the company which owned the casino was controlled by the businessman Vasilijs Melniks.
At the time, the controversial Latvian was accused of laundering more around £48.5 million from a state-owned energy company in Ukraine.
Who is the New Owner?
However, The Evening Standard revealed last week that Melniks got rid of his take in Silverbond Enterprises two years ago. This move followed the decision of a Ukrainian Court to seize the businessman‘s assets in Crimea, and in turn, forced the UK Gambling Commission to conduct a review of the company‘s gambling license.
The Park Lane Club confirmed Melniks was no longer one of the company‘s shareholders. However, they didn‘t want to give additional comments on Melniks‘ affairs.
Debbie Dunn, the compliance director at the Park Lane Club, said that Silverbond Enterprises was appealing against the revocation of its license, and pointed out the casino would continue trading until the appeals process came to an end. However, the establishment is closed at this moment, together will all other non-essential retail throughout England.
Dunn couldn‘t reveal the identity of the casino‘s new owner and explained Silverbond Enterprises was going through a corporate change of control process at the moment, stating any comments could influence the ongoing process.
The Law Protects the Owner‘s Identity
The identity of the casino‘s new owner is also protected by law. Under the provisions of the UK‘s Companies Act, the public disclosure of this information is limited if the nature of the business could represent a risk for the safety of directors. This piece of legislation is intended to protect directors from any sort of activist retribution. It is primarily focused on people working in the defence industry and those whose firms conduct experiments on live animals.
However, it remains a mystery why would this law be used to protect the identity of a casino owner.
According to Graham White, former gambling regulator, it‘s „staggering and ludicrous“ to grant anonymity to someone in an industry where money laundering is likely to occur. Speaking to the Standard, White said it was almost incredible that someone could view the ownership of a casino as secret, and pointed out he found it quite staggering.
White added the public needed to know all the details related to the revocation of the casino‘s license. As someone with a vast experience in this area, he believes this information cannot be kept away.
According to an explanation provided by the UKGC, the Park Lane Club lost its license as the regulator determined the new owner of the casino hadn‘t been in charge when the initial application for the license had been made. As we‘ve already pointed out, the gambling establishment appealed against this decision.
The country‘s gambling watchdog also said it wasn‘t satisfied with the origin of funds used to get and support the license at the time the ownership of the casino had changed.
The Park Lane Club casino has recently made the headlines after one high roller filed a lawsuit against the venue. Juste Puharic, an avid Croatian gambler wagered more than £27 million on roulette tables, hoping to receive a nice incentive bonus of 0.9%. Despite earning around £1.5 million during his gambling session at the casino, Puharic wants his bonus, worth around £245,000. The Park Lane Club casino has since denied that any sort of bonus was offered to the high roller.
The casino made the news after a high roller filed a lawsuit