Ladbrokes owner Entain agrees to pay £585m after bribery investigation

Entain owns the Ladbrokes and Coral brands (Mike Egerton/PA)
Entain owns the Ladbrokes and Coral brands (Mike Egerton/PA)

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The company behind Coral and Ladbrokes will pay penalties of more than half a billion pounds after a probe into alleged bribery at a former Turkish subsidiary.

Entain said it had reached an agreement with HM Revenue & Customs which would see it paying £585 million in penalties and disgorgement of profits.

The business will also give £20 million to charity and cover HMRC’s costs with a £10 million payment, it told shareholders on Friday.

HMRC had been probing Entain over activities at the Turkish-facing business that it sold in 2017.

Authorities started investigating the suppliers in 2019, and a year later turned their gaze on the GVC Group, which subsequently rebranded to Entain.

The company was alleged to not have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. It said that the investigation had looked at former employees and suppliers.

The business had already set aside £585 million in August to cover the potential penalties.

The deal is still awaiting final approval from a court. When it does the money will be paid in instalments over four years, bosses said. 

This would mean the end of the line for the business. For it the deal will “fully resolve the HMRC investigation into these matters.”

Entain chairman Barry Gibson said: “This legacy matter concerns a business which was sold by a former management team six years ago.

“The group has changed immeasurably since these events took place, and the DPA process has provided a reminder of the stark differences between the GVC of yesterday and the Entain of today.

“We are committed to continuing our journey towards operating only in regulated markets, and are now widely recognised as a best-in-class, responsible operator with the highest levels of corporate governance across all aspects of our business.”

Shares were trading down around 2% on Friday afternoon, but they rose on the announcement.