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Entain sets aside £585m for possible penalties after bribery investigation

Photo by PA.

By August Graham, PA Business Reporter

Coral and Ladbrokes owner Entain has set aside £585 million to cover a potential penalty after a Bribery Act investigation in the UK into its former Turkish business.

Entain, which has offices in locations around the world including Gibraltar, said it has taken the provision as it continues negotiations with the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service following the four-year inquiry.

The company had previously flagged that it might face a “substantial financial penalty” because of conduct at its former subsidiary in Turkey.

Authorities in the UK started investigating the firm’s suppliers in 2019, and a year later started to look at the GVC Group, which subsequently rebranded as Entain.

Entain sold the Turkish subsidiary in 2017, before the investigation started.

The company said after months of negotiations with the CPS it had got to the stage where it “has a sufficient degree of confidence” to set aside the money against a potential settlement.

The penalties would be paid over four years, Entain said, and are expected to get judicial approval sometime in the last three months of this year.

Chairman Barry Gibson said on Thursday: “We are pleased to be making good progress towards drawing a line under this historical issue, which relates to a business that was sold by a former management team of the group nearly six years ago.”

“We have been working closely with the CPS throughout this process, and they have recognised our extensive co-operation.”

“Following a complete overhaul of our business model, strategy and culture in the last few years, the Entain of today bears no resemblance to the GVC of yesterday.”

The company said it had been investigated under Section 7 of the UK Bribery Act. This is used when a business does not have adequate procedures in place to prevent people involved with it from bribing others to benefit the company.

Entain said that the group has reviewed its anti-bribery policies since the investigation started in 2019.

It came as the gambling giant reported a 13% hike in revenues to £2.4 billion in the six months to the end of June.

It made a pre-tax loss of £502.5 million in the same period, down from a profit of £28.1 million a year earlier.

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