Itai Pazner departs 888 after KYC and AML failings in Middle East

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888 has confirmed the departure of CEO Itai Pazner ‘with immediate effect’ following revelations over KYC and AML failures in its Middle Eastern markets. 

Updating its investors this morning, 888 confirmed that Pazner has departed office and that a search for his successor will begin shortly. 

In the meantime, the Non–Executive Chair, Lord Mendelsohn, will take the reins of the global gambling group while the search is conducted. 

Providing an update to investors, Mendelsohn said: “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 endeavors.”

Pazner became 888 CEO in 2019 and has spent over 20 years with the company. He has enjoyed time in several roles, including marketing manager, regional management positions and eventually two successive Senior Vice President roles.

Taking the group’s reins in 2019, Pazner has overseen the process of 888’s acquisition of William Hill’s non-US assets from Caesars Entertainment which was confirmed in 2022.

Despite this period of ‘successful early stages’, Pazner has left the group in a controversial fashion, having been sacked following revelations over KYC and AML failings in the Middle East. 

888 notified that 888 VIP customers in the Middle East would be suspended pending an ‘internal compliance investigation’, after ‘certain best practices’ were found not to have been followed. 

Regarding KYC and AML issues, 888 has suspended those VIP customers’ accounts in its .com assets in the region, which accounts for less than 3% of group revenues. 

With the severity of the breaches forcing the closure of accounts, Pazner has been ousted from his leadership role. 

Mendelsohn continued: “The Board and I take the Group’s compliance responsibilities incredibly seriously. When we were alerted to issues with some of 888’s VIP customers, the Board took decisive actions. We will be uncompromising in our approach to compliance as we build a strong and sustainable business.”

As part of this announcement, 888 also confirmed that Yariv Dafna, CFO and Executive Director, will remain in his role until the end of 2023, despite announcing his resignation on Mar. 31. Finally, Andria Vidler will become Chair of the ESG Committee with immediate effect.