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UPDATE: 888 CFO to stay longer as CEO leaves amid Middle East probe

30th Jan 2023 09:50

(Alliance News) - 888 Holdings PLC on Monday said Chief Financial Officer Yariv Dafna will now stay in the post until the end of 2023, while the bookmaker's chief executive has left the company suddenly.

The online gaming operator also reporting it has suspended some activities in the Middle East amid a customer compliance probe.

Shares in the company slumped 22% to 80.35 pence each in London on Monday.

The departure of CEO Itai Pazner comes just over two weeks after the company announced Dafna would step down as chief financial officer. Dafna was expected to leave 888 at the end of March. However, 888 on Monday said he will remain in the post until the end of 2023.

Non-Executive Chair Jonathan Mendelsohn will take over as executive chair on an interim basis while the gambling firm hunts for a new CEO. 888 did not give a reason for Pazner's immediate departure.

"On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Itai for his significant contributions to the business over more than 20 years, including the last four as CEO. Itai has played a very important role in building a business with powerful proprietary technology, and has overseen successful early stages to the William Hill integration process. We wish him well in his future endeavours," Mendelsohn said.

888 announced it has suspended VIP activities in the Middle East region ahead of the "outcome of an internal compliance investigation".

Following an initial review, 888 said some of its units in the Middle East region have fallen short in know your client and anti-money laundering compliance measures. 888 said it currently believes the issues are "isolated to this region only".

"While further internal investigations are underway, the board has taken the decision to suspend VIP customer accounts in the region, effective immediately. The board currently estimates that the impact is less than 3% of group revenues, should the suspensions remain in place," 888 said.

Back in March, the UK's Gambling Commission handed 888 a GBP9.4 million fine for "social responsibility and money laundering failings".

"This is the second time 888 UK Ltd has faced enforcement action – in 2017 they paid a GBP7.8 million penalty package for failing vulnerable customers," the watchdog said at the time.

By Eric Cunha, Alliance News news editor

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