Pazner removed as 888 chief executive

The operator’s non-executive chairman Lord Mendelsohn will become interim executive chair while the board of directors searches for a permanent replacement for Pazner.

His abrupt departure, after more than 20 years with the business, coincides with the operator announcing the suspension of VIP activities in certain markets.

An internal compliance review revealed anti-money laundering and Know Your Customer best practices were not followed for Middle Eastern Customers.

Pazner (pictured above) was appointed CEO of 888 in January 2019, having risen through the ranks during two decades at the company. As CEO, he led the business through a period that included the acquisition of the non-US business of William Hill in July 2022. He also oversaw expansion efforts across North America in both the US and Canada.

“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,” interim executive chair Lord Mendelsohn said. 

“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.”

Earlier in the month the business also announced that its chief financial officer Yariv Dafna would be stepping down from 31 March. Dafna’s resignation came as 888 warned of a 3% year-on-year decline in revenue for its 2022 financial year. However, today the company have said that Dafna will now remain in place until the end of 2023.

VIP suspension

The suspension of VIP activities for Middle Eastern customers pending the outcome of an internal compliance investigation was announced alongside Pazner’s departure.

Following an internal compliance review, 888 said it had come to light certain best practices had not been followed in regard to know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) processes for 888 VIP customers in the Middle East region. 

While further internal investigations are underway, the 888 board took the decision to suspend VIP customer accounts in the region with immediate effect.

Should the suspensions remain in place, the impact would be less than 3% of group revenue. In addition, the board said based on its current understanding, the process deficiencies were isolated to the Middle East region.

“The board and I take the group’s compliance responsibilities incredibly seriously,” Lord Mendelsohn said. “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.”

Shares in 888 Holdings have dropped 15.99% to 86.70 pence per share following the announcements.

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